Buying a first car is tough. After the expense of passing your test you’re then presented with the astronomical challenge of financing your first wheels. Insurance can cost you more than the car for the first few years of motoring. Consequently, used small cars with low insurance groups are always in demand, so their prices, compared to a larger better equipped car, can be comparatively high.
My recommendation is, do not buy the car until you can afford the insurance. Other cars will come along, so don’t rush your purchase. You will be unable to tax it without insurance. If you don’t have anywhere off the road to park and SORN1 it, you run the risk of having your car crushed, if caught.
Enter your details with one of the insurance price comparison sites, then request quotes as you search. It’s usually just a simple matter of entering the registration and value each time, once you’ve done the first quote.
To help you on your hunt here are my top 5 first cars and don’t forget to check my buying guide if you need tips when viewing, test driving, and negotiating the price.
The little KA is the nippiest attendant in this list and fun to drive round country lanes. The engine retains its manners even on the motorway. Its steering is responsive and ride is notably smooth for its size. The cabin is a vast improvement over the previous KA. However, the plastics still feel flimsy and touches of interior colour will not be to everyone’s taste. Equipment is basic on the Studio model and the seats lack support. Legroom is tight for rear passengers and the 224-litre rear luggage space is the lowest here.
Search for the 1.2 Studio, which is in insurance group 2.
Prices start from £2,500 for the suggested model.
For new drivers that want something larger than a super-mini, the Fabia is an excellent choice. The build quality has improved over the previous generation. The cabin is solid and the seats are comfortable. The 1.2 engine needs to be worked hard to move around this size car, especially with a full load of passengers. The ride quality is excellent compared to its smaller counterparts. The boot space is practical with 40/60 split rear seats and a divider to stop bags rolling around.
The one to look for is the 1.2 S, which is in insurance group 3.
Prices start from £2,600 for the suggested model.
The Yaris is a solid little performer. The ride quality is coarse but the steering is positive which makes cornering enjoyable. Unlike some of its competitors, the 1.0 litre engine likes to be revved and while the performance is far from awe-inspiring, it goes well enough to put the occasional smile on your face. The cabin extras are minimal and the firm seats can make longer journeys uncomfortable. The Yaris has a good reliability record and also a coveted 5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash test.
The T2 1.0 VVTI model is the one to find, they’re in insurance group 2.
Prices start from £1,800 for the suggested model.
The Corsa looks good and comes fairly well-equipped. The 3-cylinder engine feels laboured when revved and engine noise is noticeable at highway speeds. The steering can feel vague and gear change is fairly clunky. Nevertheless, the Corsa stops well and is sure-footed in the wet. The cabin is well trimmed and it will happily carry 4 adults. With 5 stars in the Euro NCAP test, it’s also one of the safest small cars.
Go for the 1.0 Ecoflex models which are in insurance group 2.
Prices start from £3,500 for the suggested model.
The entry level Volkswagen is sparsely equipped but the plastics and interior feel solid and well put together. The cabin is surprisingly spacious and sliding rear seats can give your passengers more leg room or increase the boot space. The 1.2 engine is ponderously slow and, combined with fairly soft suspension, it’s not as fun to drive as some of its competitors. With the VW badge upfront, when you feel it’s time to upgrade the Fox, it should be easy to sell with fairly low depreciation.
All of the 1.2 models are in insurance group 1.
Prices start from £1,000 for the suggested model.