Not long passed your test and wondering what the best value for money first car you can get with your limited budget is?

Well done, you’ve come to the right place!

We here at CarMoney know that buying your first car can be an incredibly exciting time of your life with the freedom it offers you, but also very scary as it’s probably the most amount of cash you’ve ever forked out!

That’s why our expert team has put together this handy list of the best first-time cars you can buy for a variety of budgets (whether you’ve had a bit of help from the parents or not!)

So take a look at our list below for some inspiration, we’ve even included a section with the cheapest cars to insure!

What to look for in a first car?

One of the main problems facing young drivers today is the unreasonably high insurance premiums they pay, causing many drivers to cheap out on the car instead. But you can have a brilliant car at a low price, easily! 

Some parents may be in a position in which they can buy their child their first car, in which case safety is likely to be a leading factor. Buying a brand new car is safer as it will come with the most up to date features, but it will likely be a good bit more expensive than a car that is only a year or two older with many of the same things! 

If you are looking for the best fuel efficiency then you should be searching in the super-mini category with the likes of the Kia Picanto, Seat Mii and VW up!. 

5 under £5K:

1. Volkswagen Up!

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The Volkswagen up! has been a favourite for many first time car buyers. Reliable, efficient and cheap to buy up front as well as to run, the up! is a great all rounder! The good thing about VW too is that you can get much the same equipment in the Up! as you can in a Golf or Polo. On the second hand market you can easily find one less than £3K, but make sure you check thoroughly for scuffs as previous owners may not have looked after them.

2. Citroen C4

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The Citroen C4 is a stylish French hatchback, and with plenty of pedigree believe it or not! Not only are they comfortable and efficient, you can pick one up for less than you may think! The best engine choice would be the 1.6-litre diesel with enough punch but excellent fuel consumption figures of up to 60mpg.

3. Citroen C1

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The Citroen C1 is a city car so is easily manoeuvred around town, it can fit into tiny spaces too. It is only insurance group 3 so cheap to insure even for first-time drivers. With small overhangs, the C1 is fun to drive, with go-kart characteristics. For someone just learning the ropes, it is a perfect companion!

4. Toyota Yaris

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The Yaris is one of the most reliable cars on the market, solid build quality and great efficiency make the Yaris truly desirable. Over 2 million have been sold, it is a popular car and for good reason. Once again it is small and easy to drive with cheapness and efficiency in mind! 

5. Vauxhall Corsa

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Ah yes, the reliable Corsa that everyone loves. I'm pretty certain 20% of the British driving population had one of these as their first cars! That tells you enough, with brilliant fuel efficiency and cheap parts to replace if needed, you will find a Corsa at almost every garage in the land! So they come cheap too...

5 Under £10K

1. Fiat 500

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Of course, we weren't going to go through the list without the Fiat 500! It may be a cliche 16-year-old girls car but the 500 has earned a fair reputation as a brilliant hatch! With plenty of variations (good and bad) like the Abarth as something sportier or the XL for more room. 

2. Suzuki Swift Sport

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The Swift Sport is a warm hatch, not quite as fast as the big-name hot hatches but still a fun little car. It definitely has the looks too, big alloys, twin exhausts, lowered suspension and roof spoiler. There are not so many of these either which means a bit of individuality! A second-hand model wouldn't set you back much either.

3. Citroen DS3

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With great styling, the DS3 is a car to be seen in. It is popular amongst young drivers and there are plenty of options for the driver to customise their car. The DS range has been so popular it is now a brand on its own, and that started with the DS3! 

4. Ford Focus

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The Ford Focus is one of the most popular hatchbacks on the market accumulating various awards over the years and selling over 1.1 million cars. It is not hard to see why it's such a great seller, Ford's engineers created a car that handles well, leading to an enjoyable drive. The prices you can find a second hand Focus' at is ridiculous and come with trimmings such as Bluetooth and cruise control!

5. Skoda Octavia

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The Octavia is available in both saloon and estate versions, it is a practical, big family car with great safety ratings and plenty of room. Not only that but you can pick up a relatively new model with Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control for less than £10K! 

5 Under £15K

1. Audi S3

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Looking for an everyday driver that can still bring a rye smile every now and then? The Audi S3 is a massive favourite in the UK market. There are thousands of second-hand models all over the shop. With many models coming with extras such as cruise control, leather interior and 4WD!

2. BMW 2 Series

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The 2 Series is another fan-favourite from the other big German giant! It keeps the sleek and style of a smaller saloon whilst maintaining BMW's quality feel. Better yet, there are plenty of options on the second-hand market and more than enough options under £15K!

3. Hyundai i10

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This has become somewhat of a dark horse as its i10N model has taken the hot-hatchback world by storm! But we are talking about the standard version today. And it doesn't short-sell you at all, with plenty of trinkets like crusie control and Bluetooth multimedia.

4. Peugeot 208

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The 208 has been around longer than I have, and has been consistently brilliant (for the most part) and now comes with even more toys to play with! Even better is you won't need to go too old to get under the budget with this one as you can pick up a late 2019 / early 2020 model within our set budget!

5. Volkswagen Golf

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Now, I know what you are about to say... a VW Golf is so common that it's boring! There may be 'thoosands' out there but that means you will likely get a better deal for it! Plus, the VW Golf is popular for good reason with plenty of standard equipment and playful enough to throw around. Furthermore, you can find some second-hand gems such as Golf R's or GTI's.

5 Under £20K

1. Mercedes A-Class

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Now the A-Class is the epitome of what Mercedes think a hatchback should be, with loads of standard equipment, good range in engine sizes all while keeping that luxury Mercedes feel. The only downside is you end up paying slightly more for the brand, but you may find it worth it after driving it for a few days!

2. Audi A5

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The A5 is Audi's big saloon car with plenty of room and great fuel efficiency. If you are looking for a large, sensible, safe and comfortable family car that can handle the commute then look no further! The A5 should tick most boxes for families, plus being one of the most popular saloons out there, there are heaps of options!

3. BMW 5 Series

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Looking for something to chew up those motorway miles? The 5 Series has been a well-loved car of the everyday commuters. Comfortable, well-specced and smooth, the 5 Series will not fail to impress!

4. Mercedes C-Class

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Looking for the ultimate luxury cruiser? The C-Class combines comfort, class, style and sheer luxury to bring together a brilliant saloon car for any type of driver! With our budget in mind, it won't be the all-singing and dancing 2020 models but you can still find plenty of options.

5. Audi A8

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Audi's top of the line (apart from S and RS versions) and contending with the C Class for comfort and luxury, the A8 definitely makes our list! With trinkets such as electric seat controls, heated steering wheel and digital dash, the Audi A8 should make any driver very happy indeed.

Cheapest Cars to Insure

1. Hyundai i10

Oh yes, the small city car is an ideal buy for a new driver. Not only is it one of the cheapest to insure, but it is also easy to drive and park as well as being super-efficient on fuel!

2. Seat Ibiza

Related closely to the VW Golf, the Seat Ibiza has been a favourite among young drivers for years! It comes well equipped and decent on fuel. With the added benefit of cheap insurance, not a bad pick!

3. Ford Fiesta

Britains best-selling car for 9 years straight, the Fiesta has been many people's first car, and left a lasting impression. Cheap and cheerful it may be but a reliable and efficient mate on the road!

4. Toyota Yaris

This little Japanese car has always made honours lists and been named by many as a brilliant little car. The Yaris comes with everything you would expect from a supermini and more, with unreal fuel stats!

5. Nissan Micra

The Micra is not only cheap to buy but also to insure and to run! Again, with excellent mileage stats and enough gadgets to keep a teenager happy (aka Bluetooth to play their music too loud), this car should definitely be on your list for first cars!


Did we miss anything from our list? While you’re here, why not check out our list of the Top 20 Used Cars for Under £10,000 or take a look at our blog for more handy and interesting posts?

Posted 05/01/2022 Back to Blog

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