It’s an exciting moment for any new driver when the time comes to pick out a first car, but it can also be a bit of a minefield.  It’s not just finding a car at a reasonable purchase price that you need to consider, it’s also important to think about ongoing running costs, reliability, potential maintenance costs and the dreaded insurance fees that affect affordability in the long-run.

We’re often asked for our expert recommendations, particularly by parents who want to see their children set out on their first independent journeys in something safe – but also practical and affordable.

We find ourselves recommending the same few ideal first cars that tick all the boxes in terms of reliability and cost and are well received by new drivers.

This selection of small city cars are our favourites.

Good quality used models can be picked up for between £3,000 – £5,000 and their small engines and compact frameworks make them great first-car options for new drivers to handle as they continue to build their confidence and skills.

In terms of running costs, they all sit well within the affordable 2, 3 and 4 insurance groups, are economical and fairly easy and cheap to maintain if looked after properly.

Peugeot 108

The Peugeot 108 is the French firm’s smallest car, but it has a distinctively grown-up look compared to other similar-sized vehicles and is favoured by new drivers who have left it a little later to learn. We’ve found it tends to be a preferred choice of twenty-somethings who want a more sophisticated-looking city car with all the perks of low insurance and running costs. There’s a lot to be said for going with a well-established brand. Popularity engenders peace of mind as you know this is a tried and tested model with consistently good reviews.

Toyota Aygo

The Aygo might not be as familiar as the Peugeot 108, but it’s not a great deal different when you get under its skin. In fact, it shares its engine and chassis design with the Peugeot 108 and is built in the same Czech factory, alongside the Citroen C1. It’s been around since 2005 and has been a brilliant little addition to many a household.  Newer models post-2014 have been fitted with extra sound-deadening panels to make it a quieter ride at cruising speeds, but in terms of efficiency and affordability, older models are still perfectly serviceable. They’re a cute run-around with a distinctive x-nose feature and punchy colour options that make them appealing to style-conscious teens and we find they go down particularly well with first-time female drivers.


The Up won the title of ‘2012 World Car of the Year’ just one year after its introduction in the small city-car market and has maintained its position as one of the best in class for performance. It was a trailblazer for this type of car, being the first to offer an automated braking system that helps avoid collisions under 19mph (perfect for those less practiced at parking). This has since been copied in the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo models. Its slightly boxy style might not make it the most attractive design-wise, but it’s sturdy, pretty spacious as small cars go, and handles well around town as well as on longer-haul motorway drives. All in all, it’s a safe bet as a first car when you’re looking for comfort and safety.

Skoda Citigo

The Skoda Citigo is basically a rebadged version of the Up, with slightly different front and rear fascias. For those who are less badge conscious, it offers all the robust features of the Up at a slightly lesser price. The interior quality isn’t quite on a par, but for driveability it’s hard to beat.

Kia Picanto

If you’re looking for a really well set out car for driver and passengers with leg room and a decent boot space, our suggestion would be the Kia Picanto. It comes with 5 doors as standard and, while it might be a bit of a squeeze, there is space (and seatbelts) in the back for three passengers whereas some models, like the Up, only have two rear seatbelts fitted. The Picanto is also available in both manual and automatic options. Like any small city car, it’s not built with luxury in mind but the interior isn’t at all bad and it has the feel of a bigger car once inside.

Of course, if the intended driver is over 6ft, any of the smaller city cars might feel a bit restricted. While you might be edging towards the higher end of the £3-5000 budget it is worth considering, for the sake of added comfort, a slightly larger first car.

Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio

Bearing in mind all the other factors that make a first car affordable to run and insure, we would suggest looking at either a Ford Fiesta with a 1.25 engine or a Renault Clio. They come with a little bit more clout and manage cruising speeds with greater ease but are still perfect for new drivers who need to practice their driving skills without having too much power at their fingertips.

If you would like more information on any of the models mentioned above, or further advice on an alternative that might be more suitable for you, give our friendly team a call. We’ll be more than happy to discuss your requirements.

Call our team on 0333 006 3825 or email sales@find-and-finance.co.uk

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