Cars for first time drivers

From the timeless Ford Fiesta to the fabulous Fiat 500 and everything in between, here’re Marmalade’s top picks of first cars for young drivers.

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Congratulations, you passed your driving test! With so many brands, models, and options to consider, choosing your first car can be a headache. We’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed down a list of 10 cars which are very popular with young drivers.

For previous generations, a young driver’s first car after passing their test would be a pocket-friendly run-around. The trick was to find a car that was in good condition but old enough to keep costs down. However, now that car finance companies offer such a wide range of credit options, cars for first time drivers could actually be brand new.

So, what makes a good first car? There’s a lot of stiff competition out there but, ideally, a first car should be easy to drive, affordable, cheap to insure and have low running costs. It’s a huge bonus if it looks cool, comes in a colour you like, and has a wicked stereo, but everyone has different needs when it comes to choosing their first ride.

Quick tip! Petrol and diesel prices always seem to be creeping up, which is why fuel economy is a priority in today’s climate - so bear that in mind over aesthetics.

Hopefully, our top picks have helped you to decide what your new ride will be. It’s also important to remember that there are many factors to consider when choosing your perfect car. Here are 4 things to look out for before buying a new set of wheels.

Car insurance for first time drivers

Looking for a car that sits in a low insurance group, and delivers plenty of miles to the gallon, will help to keep your running costs low. You might also find that choosing a black box insurance policy, which rewards safe, sensible driving, could reduce your costs even further.

Road Tax

Remember to check how much tax your new wheels will cost you – smaller cars with lower emissions will generally be cheaper to tax.


Check the Miles per Gallon figures for the cars you’re considering. This will help you to work out what your running costs may be. Remember, newer cars tend to be more fuel-efficient than older models which will see you saving at the pump.


Your safety is incredibly important, and choosing a vehicle with a high safety rating could reduce the risk of a claim - which may also save you money on your insurance. Check your chosen car’s NCAP safety rating and check out our other young drivers reviews to see what they think.

Ford Fiesta

Fod Fiesta 2022
A common sight on British roads, the Ford Fiesta continues to be a solid favourite with first time drivers. This is largely thanks to its safety record, standard Ford reliability, and its reputation for being a fun, easy drive. Fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s perfect for today’s young, tech-obsessed driver. A large touchscreen infotainment system displays the sat nav and music apps, so there’s less temptation for mobile phone use. With the ability to set a maximum speed and stereo volume, the innovative MyKey feature ensures safe driving. There’s also Active ParkAssist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Alerts to keep you safe behind the wheel.

Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa 2022
Another car you’ll see on almost every journey, the Corsa makes our shortlist not just for sporty looks and excellent engineering, but also its affordability and high fuel efficiency. Depending on the model, the Corsa often sits in low insurance groups which means it’s a top contender for new drivers of all ages. Technology fans won’t be disappointed as it boasts a 7” infotainment touchscreen to host sat nav and music apps, and the LED headlights and leather steering wheel make it a very sleek first car for a new driver. For those curious as to what would be a great first car for a teenager - this may be it.

VW Polo

VW Polo 2022
A fantastic city car in a low insurance group, the Polo has been around for almost 50 years and continues to be a favourite with new drivers in the UK. Renowned for its build quality, comfort, and space, it’s surprisingly roomy inside and, thanks to its reliability, the VW Polo holds on to its value. With impressive safety features like Pedestrian Detection and Front Assist with City Emergency Braking all helping to minimise the risk of accidents, the Polo could be a smart choice for a teenager’s first car.

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 2022
It’s easy to see why the Fiat 500 is chosen by so many young drivers to be their first car. Based on its classic namesake from the 1950’s, the cute, retro Mini-esque design makes it one of the most stylish small cars available. With a choice of diesel or petrol engine, it’s efficient on fuel (47-72 mpg) and low on insurance costs. The Hybrid range has lower CO2 emissions and makes for a smoother, quieter drive. Eco-friendly drivers will be pleased to know that the seats are made from fibres partly constructed using plastic collected from the sea.

VW Golf

VW Golf
This timeless classic has been winning hearts for almost 50 years now. Spacious like the Polo and easy to drive, it’s well equipped with some impressive tech, including a fully digital cockpit and wireless mobile phone charging. Get this, it’s even got voice control - say “hello Volkswagen” and your car will recognise your voice, personalise the air conditioning and respond to requests such as “Where can I find a Thai restaurant nearby?”. You can also control the sat nav, phone and entertainment system by voice - so it’s a hit for the tech-savvy young driver.

Renault Clio

Renault Clio
Another fabulous car for first-time drivers is the Renault Clio – an option which certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to design, tech, and overall appeal. This smart supermini boasts a large touchscreen for infotainment, and a layered interior design to rival the Audi A1. A 5-star safety rating, low insurance group and low running costs make this a very attractive package for new drivers. It’s impressively spacious for all passengers and has a boot larger than its peers. With potential for an excellent finance deal, it’s no surprise the Clio continues to feature in our top picks.

SEAT Ibiza

Seat Ibiza 2022
A consistent favourite amongst new drivers, the SEAT Ibiza boasts a sportier design than its mechanical twin, the Volkswagen Polo. With LED headlights, keyless entry and a very cool infotainment system that can mirror your phone’s display, it will please the tech-savvy young driver. 5 doors and a spacious boot come as standard, so your passengers won’t be cramped, and, with automatic emergency braking, safety is a key feature. If you’re looking for a car that’ll suit a young driver for years to come, this may be a smart choice.

Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra
Now in its eighth generation, and with a trendier, sportier aesthetic than its predecessors, the Astra is sure to be a hit with new drivers this year. With the new ‘Vizor’ blackout front-end styling and sleek interior, it’s clear Vauxhall have upped their game with the Astra. The ‘Pure Panel Pro’ cockpit hosts two digital screens on the dashboard: one for the speedometer and rev counter, the other for the infotainment system. It’s got plenty of space plus it won’t break the bank with its running costs. Overall, this British-made car is top notch.

Ford Ka+

Ford Ka plus
The Ka has been around for over 25 years now and has been rebranded as Ka+. Promising medium-car space for small-car money, it’s all about value. It’s surprisingly big inside. With more room than most city cars, it’s a sturdy, practical vehicle that’s worth considering for a teenager’s first car. With a 6.5” touchscreen, smartphone mirroring, air-conditioning, speed limiter and cruise control as standard, this nippy city car suits first time car buyers who’re on a tight budget but also in need of space. If you’re asking what car you should bear in mind for first time drivers, then the Ka+ ticks all boxes.

Audi A1

Audi A1 2022
A popular choice with new drivers who can afford to spend a little more on their first wheels, the Audi A1 is aimed at the young, urban audience. Audi oozes quality and reliability, so this stylish car is a perfect option for new drivers. It’s smart inside, and roomy too. With a steering wheel from the TT, the Virtual Cockpit is fully digital, and the infotainment screen is touchscreen only. The A1 is a smooth ride, never failing to bring a smile when you’re behind the wheel.

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If you're looking to insure your first car, or you're going to be sharing mum and dad's car until you're ready to get your dream first car, we've got a variety of flexible insurance options ranging from annual cover to insurance by the mile.

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