Best First Cars

26th Jan 2022

By Edward Cook

The first step to freedom

There's something special about your first car. Often the gateway to freedom, many form a special connection with their first car as it allows them to go wherever they want without having to wait for the bus or ask for a lift.

There are a number of characteristics that first time drivers usually look out for when on the hunt for a car. They'll need to be safe, cheap to run, and easy to drive whilst also allowing the driver to enjoy their time behind the wheel.

With a wide range of affordable new and used cars to choose from, we take a look at some of the candidates for the title of best first car.

Ford Fiesta

White Ford Fiesta Exterior Front Driving

There's no better way to kick off this list than with one of the UK's best selling cars; the Ford Fiesta. Popular with many, the Fiesta makes for a great first car thanks to its surprising versatility, low running costs and great all-round capabilities.

Introduced in 2021, the latest generation introduces a range of unique styling options to add further differentiation to the line-up, as well as a range of safety features such as lane keeping aid and a blind spot information system to reduce the risks of a collision.

Whilst not as advanced as the latest Fiesta, there are plenty of used seventh and eighth generation models available that are fantastic value for money.

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Vauxhall Corsa

Orange Vauxhall Corsa Exterior Front Driving

A staple among young drivers, the Corsa is Vauxhall's offering within the supermini segment. Coming with sharp looks, it's sure to impress your friends when you set off on your first road trip.

First-time drivers will be left with very few complaints when behind the wheel of a Corsa thanks to standard kit such as a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control and speed sign recognition.

There are a wide range of powertrains to choose from, including a super-efficient diesel that's suitable for regular motorway users and a number of petrol engines that offer punchy performance for zipping around town.

Those looking for maximum economy may find the Corsa-e an attractive proposition, but electric cars usually possess higher insurance premiums. Automatic gearboxes are also available if you're after a more straight-forward means of motoring.

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Skoda Citigo

Yellow Skoda Citigo Exterior Front Static

Skoda have long been known for producing cars that are great value for money and very practical, so first time drivers will be pleased to find these traits within the Citigo city car.

The practical 251-litre boot space provides plenty of room for shopping and starts to compete with some cars in the class above. Dropping the rear seats sees overall carrying capacity increase to 950 litres. Your friends will be thankful if you opt for a 5-door variant too, as this makes life easier when climbing in and out of the back.

Entry-level models offer the basics, but opting for a higher specification introduces colourful accents to the interior design as well as parking sensors and heated seats.

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SEAT Ateca

Grey SEAT Ateca  Exterior Front Static

Not all first time drivers are young, wild and free. Some have responsibilities that their first car must cater for; that's where SUVs such as the SEAT Ateca come into play.

The obvious benefit to having an Ateca is the extra room it offers compared to smaller alternatives; 510 litres of boot space can comfortably fit a pushchair or a few bags of luggage. Good amounts of head and legroom also makes life easier when fitting child seats to the ISOFIX mounting points in the rear.

Don't be intimidated by the larger dimensions either as responsive handling and good visibility ensure it's easy to drive. Big cars often demand more when it comes to insurance, but not the Ateca. You'll find models that reside in insurance groups as little as 8 (out of 50), which is supermini territory.

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Hyundai i10

Red Hyundai i10 Exterior Front Static

Since its initial introduction in 2007, the Hyundai i10 has become a popular city car amongst drivers thanks to its impressive value for money and low running costs.

Hyundai have ensured the latest generation is as sharp and advanced as ever, receiving all-new updates across many of the car's features. Increased interior space, intelligent technology and efficient powertrains are just a few examples of what the i10 has to offer.

You'll be hard pushed to find a car that's as cheap to insure as the i10 too, with plenty of the models residing in groups 1 and 2 (out of 50). Hyundai's 5-year manufacturer warranty is a welcome bonus, providing you with peace of mind even if you buy a used example.

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Kia Picanto

Yellow Kia Picanto Exterior Front Static

Coming with perky looks and generous amounts of technology, there's no wonder the Kia Picanto is a go-to choice for first time drivers.

The small 1.0-litre engines on offer significantly reduce running costs, thanks to their impressive fuel economy figures and low insurance groups. However, the Picanto still feels punchy around town, allowing drivers to enjoy their time behind the wheel.

The compact dimensions and good visibility mean manoeuvres are a doddle, especially when paired with available safety features such as rear parking sensors. Five doors as standard allow friends to jump in the back easily, while a respectable 255-litre boot swallows multiple bags of shopping with ease.

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Renault Clio

Blue Renault Clio Exterior Front Driving

The other options on this list are stylish in their own right, but none of them possess quite as much 'va-va-voom' as the Renault Clio. The supermini comes with the usual chic looks we've come to expect from the French brand, making the Clio great for first time drivers that love to stand out from the crowd.

But eye-catching looks alone don't make a car one of the best-selling French vehicles ever made and Renault knew this when they designed the latest generation of the Clio. Advanced equipment such as lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking come as standard across the range, allowing the Clio to achieve a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

A range of economical yet spritely powertrains ensure the Clio is a great all-round proposition. Renault have also introduced a plug-in hybrid version called the Clio E-TECH, ideal for those looking for an affordable yet eco-friendly supermini.

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Volkswagen Polo

Orange Volkswagen Polo Exterior Front Driving

The Volkswagen Polo offers the usual supermini traits such as good all-round capabilities, affordable running costs and various safety features. However, competitors struggle to match the Polo when it comes to overall build quality.

The interior is made up of various top-end materials and comes with a touchscreen infotainment system as standard that has smartphone mirroring capabilities. The full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating provides confidence while out on the road too.

Sportier individuals may want to opt for something like the R-Line, whilst trendier individuals may find the Polo Style an attractive option. Either way, there's a Polo to suit everyone's preferences.

Five doors as standard and a generously-sized 351-litre boot make the Polo a top option for young families or those that regularly travel with multiple friends.

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Fiat 500

Blue Fiat 500 Exterior Front Driving

Thanks to its stylish exterior and affordable running costs the Fiat 500 has become somewhat of a first time driver icon, competing with other city cars for the attention of potential buyers. The interior is just as chic as the exterior, with a distinctive dashboard design and available tech such as satellite navigation.

A range of economical engines reduce trips to the petrol station while also being nimble around town. A mild hybrid variant is also available, as well as an all-electric 500e for the most eco-friendly individuals.

With only 185 litres of boot space and three doors as standard, it isn't the most practical of cars, so you may want to opt for something else if you're regularly travelling with more than one passenger.

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Citroën C1

Red Citroen C1 Exterior Front Static

With minimal running costs and various areas for personalisation, Citroën may have whipped up a top recipe for first time drivers with the C1 city car. The eccentric exterior design and unorthodox, yet functional, dashboard layout allow drivers to look fashionable when cruising around urban areas.

Other impressive features include technology such as a 7-inch infotainment system that offers Apple Car Play/Android Auto connectivity and the choice between five or 3-door configurations dependent upon your lifestyle.

The complications of choosing an engine are also removed as the C1 only comes with one; a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol. Whilst small in size, the engine has the ability to reach fuel economy figures of 68mpg combined as well as feeling peppy when needed.

The Citroën C1 was also part of a cross-brand city car collaboration, with the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo being built on the same platform.

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Find your first car with Evans Halshaw

With such a wide range of cars available, there's sure to be something out there that suits your needs.

Our Evans Halshaw dealerships have a wide range of new and used cars ready to browse and test drive. Our blog section is also home to a variety of useful articles that can help you get to grips with the world of motoring.