Passing your driving test is an important life milestone worth celebrating. Holding the keys to your first car and hitting the open road without L plates or an instructor beside you is one of the most freeing experiences of modern life. But it can also be an incredibly daunting one. 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 for making the process enjoyable. Find your perfect match, and you might never want to put the keys down again.
That's where cinch can help. In this guide, we'll explain what to look out for and which specific models to consider as a 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 ten times over. To make sure we're being extra helpful, we'll also run into the basics of car insurance after the list of contenders, and explain why cinchCare is the perfect way to stay safe as a newbie on the road. We are the home of faff free motoring, after all.
Best cars for new drivers
This trio of city cars share the same mechanical bits; only their bodywork and interiors are different. The prices are different too: the Citigo is the cheapest, with the Mii in second and 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 are all great first cars. Plus, they're economical to run, fun to drive and cheap to insure.
The Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroën C1 are, much like the Citigo/Mii/up, fundamentally the same car, developed in a partnership with the brands. They're styled differently by their respective carmakers, but all are 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. Really, 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.
Yep, we have another shared platform option, but this time it's a pair (rather than a trio) of city cars, in the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. Like the above cars, both of these cars are very good buys for new drivers. 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 of a few years old can still be bought with a manufacturer warranty.
The Fiesta has long been Britain’s best-selling car for good reason; it's practical, easy to drive and genuinely fun through the bends. It’s bigger and more spacious than the above city cars, but shouldn’t cost much more to run. It also has safety-boosting features like Ford's MyKey system, which allows parents can 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.
The Polo is has long been established as a key player offering Golf-like quality in the supermini segment, and it has steadily grown over the years, so the latest version is as spacious and practical as they come. It's also very well built, packed with 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.
The plucky looks of the Mini hatchback have earned it plenty of fans over the years. 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. With BMW build quality (the German firm owns Mini) and darty, enthusiastic handling, it's another fun contender for both novice and experienced drivers. 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.
Once you've found the first car of your dreams, the next thing to consider is car insurance. For new and young drivers insurance can be costly, largely because, statistically, one in every five new drivers is likely to make a claim in their first year of driving. As a result, you’ll need to budget for something in excess of £2,000 for the first year, whatever you drive.
There are ways to reduce the premiums, such as buying a car in a low insurance group – the lower the group the lower the cost of insurance (1 being the lowest, 50 the highest). Another way of paying less for insurance is to agree to an annual mileage limit. Alternatively, drivers can agree to have a higher excess, which is the amount you have to contribute if you have to claim. A higher excess means lower premiums, but a larger bill if you do make a claim.
Adding an older, experienced person as an additional driver can also lower premiums – but don’t be tempted to make that person the main driver. This is known as ‘fronting’ and is illegal.
A popular way to reduce premiums is to have a telematics ‘black box’ fitted, which monitors how the car is driven, with the data being sent to the insurer. If you drive safely, the cost of insurance will come down: but if you drive badly, your premiums will rise.
Ok, so you've got the motor, it's insured and you're ready to hit the road. Congrats. But there's another thing when it comes to car ownership: maintenance. You could take things into your own hands - we have a helpful guide to servicing your car here - but for new drivers in particular, the most faff free option is cinchCare. If you drive 12,000 miles or less per year (that's easily more than the national average), you'll be eligible for cinch's lifetime warranty offer, costing just £34.99 a month. Opt for cinchCare and you needn't worry about servicing or maintenance, we do it for you, leaving you to focus on the fun bit: driving.