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Best first cars for new drivers 2024

Here are some of our top picks for the best first cars for beginners in 2024

Cars for beginners

Passing your driving test is an important life milestone, and one worth celebrating. Just like deciding on the best first car.

Holding the keys to your first vehicle and hitting the open road without L plates or an instructor beside you is one of the most liberating experiences of modern life.

It can also be an incredibly daunting one, however. Whether it's you that's recently passed, or whether it's a partner, child or friend, finding a dependable car capable of introducing a newbie to life on the road is key to making the process enjoyable.

Find your perfect car, and you might never want to put the keys down again.

That's where we can help. In this guide, we'll explain what to look out for and which specific models to consider as an affordable good first car if you or someone you know is a new driver.

There are plenty of great choices out there, but these six cars (well, in a way it's 11) really nail the 'new driver' brief.

Skoda Citigo

a light Skoda Citigo city car parked on a bridge

The Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen Up and SEAT Mii are essentially the same car underneath and are some of the best first cars on offer – sharing the same mechanical bits, with only their bodywork and interiors being different.

The prices are different too: the Skoda Citigo comes in at the cheaper end, then moving up to the Mii, while the Up is the most expensive.

For the added cash, the Mii and Up come with a little more in the way of pizzazz and badge clout, but ultimately, they're all great first cars.

They're also economical to run, fun to drive, and cheap to insure.

Toyota Aygo

a white Toyota Aygo city car driving on a country road

The Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 are much like the Citigo/Mii/Up in that they're fundamentally the same car, developed in a partnership with the brands.

This trio, styled differently by their respective carmakers, are all tremendous as city runabouts, being cheap to run and nimble.

They can also handle motorway runs, making them a good all-rounder choice for your first car.

Essentially, they offer much the same as the Citigo/Mii/Up, so your choice is likely to be related to design preference and/or price of a particular car.

Hyundai i10

a yellow Kia Picanto city car driving on a country road

Yep, we have another shared platform option, but this time it's a pair of city cars: the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto.

Like the above options, both of these cars are some of the best first cars. They're affordable and well-equipped for the price, and are fun to drive.

The advantage this pairing has is in the warranty department: Hyundai offers five years, while Kia offers seven years.

That means used cars a few years old can still be bought with a manufacturer's warranty, which isn't something you find all that often on the used car market.

Ford Fiesta

a red Ford Fiesta hatchback driving on a country road

The Ford Fiesta has long been Britain’s best-selling car, and with good reason – it's practical, easy to drive, and genuinely fun through the bends. It's also one of the best first cars for teenagers to buy.

It’s bigger and more spacious than the above city cars, but shouldn’t cost much more to run.

The Fiesta also has safety-boosting features like Ford's MyKey system, which allows parents to set a maximum speed, a seatbelt reminder, and even a maximum stereo volume setting to stop younger drivers from giving themselves tinnitus after 10 miles.

Best of all, the Fiesta handles brilliantly, so even an experienced driver can enjoy it on the open road.

Volkswagen Polo

a white Volkswagen Polo hatchback with a red stripe driving on a country road

The Volkswagen Polo has long been established as a key player offering Golf-like quality in the supermini segment.

It has steadily grown over the years, so the latest version is as spacious and practical as they come. There are plenty of used Volkswagen models available as well - ideal if you want to cut costs.

VW's Polo is also very well built, packed full of great technology, and feels at home on any kind of road – motorways included.

There are also lots of engine and trim options to choose from, making it a good first car for new drivers and experienced drivers wanting a small car, as well.

Mini Hatchback

an orange Mini hatchback driving through a town

The plucky looks of the Mini hatchback have earned it plenty of fans over the years. It's also on of the best used cars for first-time drivers.

It's about as fashionable as hatchbacks come, so while it's the most expensive car on this list, it can be classed as the segment's ‘premium’ option.

Being owned by BMW, the Mini's build quality is sublime, and its darty and enthusiastic handling is another fun reason why this made the list.

On top of that, it has a funky interior that's finished to a high standard and well-equipped.

Admittedly, the Mini hatch doesn't have much rear legroom or a particularly spacious boot, but it more than makes up for that in character and style.

What makes the best first car?

It can be easy to get sidetracked when shopping for the best used car as a first-time driver, but what is it that really makes a great car for a beginner?

Looking for something with affordable running costs is always a good idea. Whatever your budget, you'll need to make sure that keeping your car on the road is possible for your situation. Take a look at the cost of fuel, tax and insurance, and consider what works best for you.

A reliable car is also ideal for a beginner (or for most people!), so make sure you take a look at Euro NCAP ratings, safety features, and reviews.

As well, consider what features you'd like in your car. Maybe you fancy Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, or you want plenty of space.

You might also want to consider finance on your first car if spreading the cost suits your needs. Make sure you understand the finance process before making any decisions to see if car finance is an option for you.