Buying your first car after you find yourself the proud owner of a shiny new driving licence is perhaps the most difficult decision you’ve made thus far, owning a car carries serious commitments and responsibilities, financial and otherwise. However daunting this task may seem, it doesn’t take away the excitement and the feeling that whatever happens from this moment on, this car will forever be imbedded in your memory.
And because you want to have pleasant memories of your car, you have to factor in reliability, cost and safety criteria into your decision. Our selection of the 5 best cars for new UK drivers should be a helpful guide, but car selection is a matter of personal taste more than anything nowadays, newer cars will generally require less maintainance, and let’s face it, more recent cars will also out perform older models on miles per gallon due to advances in technology and engine efficiency.
The classic Volkswagen Polo is every European new driver’s must-have and it provides outstanding safety features. Newer models have a crash test rating of 5 stars, so you know you’re in safe hands with the Polo, but bear in mind that it’s pricier than its rivals, the Corsa and the Fiesta. The Polo is still a relatively refined car, so the biting point could be harder to find for new drivers. Still, it has great steering, soft suspension and a quiet cabin (until you fit a subwoofer that is!).
Kia Picantos with 1.0 and 1.25 litre engines come with generous Kia warranty, they have 4 star Euro NCAP crash test rating and low insurance group classification. Their rivals, the Hyundai i10 and the Ford Ka are slightly more expensive and the i10, in particular, which is just as spacious as the Picanto, may end up costing you more to insure. The Picanto comes in three or five door models, but the former sacrifices practicality in favour of a sportier look. It comes in nine specifications, the entry-level 1, the five-door 1Air, 2, 3 and then the 1, 1Air, White, equinox and City models.
Vauxhall Corsa is also a 5 star rated car in terms of safety, with a spacious cabin and a good, reliable engine. It’s been a British favourite for donkey’s years and because it’s such a mainstream car, insurance costs on this vehicle are relatively low. Most importantly, you get a lifetime Vauxhall guarantee for 100,000 miles when you buy this car. With good rear and lateral visibility, tight gaps and lanes are easy to manouvre in this car. Parallel parking is also a breeze due to the Corsa’s excellent handling.
The Ford Fiesta is every new driver’s sweetheart. It’s spacious, reliable and extremely safe, with a 5 star crash test rating. The new Aston-Martin inspired nose is a nice touch, and the range of small engine options is plentiful. This is the country’s best-selling car, with light pedals, progressive clutch and small handbrake lever. With direct steering and great manoeuvrability, this car inspires confidence. In fact it is a popular choice with driving instructors, so the chances are that you may have taken your test in one. The rear and side visibility could be better, but the tight turning circle makes it great for parking and reversing.
The Skoda Citigo is a suitable car for any new driver. In fact, you may be aware of Skoda’s support for the Young Driver academy in the UK. It’s similar in many aspects to the Seat Mii and the Fiat 500 and is a serious competitor for the Kia Picanto in terms of build quality. It has a roomier boot than other city cars of this size and since SKoda are now owned by Volkswagen the quality of the interior finish is quite high. It is available on the UK market in four specifications, the S, SE, Elegance and Sport version.
Whatever your tastes and instincts tell you go for, it’s always a great idea to put together a list of features, miles per gallon, and insurance costs that the models you’re interested in offer, then compare them rationally. This should help you to get the best all round car for your available budget.
- License: Image author owned
- License: Image author owned
By Nick Davison