Buying your first car as a new driver is like a right of passage. While cars can be expensive purchases, especially when you factor in running costs, insurance and road tax, they can help you gain your independence and increase your chance of gaining employment. Choosing the right car is, therefore, a big decision and if you’ve got a budget to stick to, there are many reliable used cars out there which are suitable for new drivers due to their small engine sizes and low insurance groups. Here is a list of the five best small cars for new drivers for under £5000:
1. Ford Fiesta 2008-2017
The Ford Fiesta is the UK’s best-selling car and it also won the Best Car for New Drivers Award in 2017. It was voted one of the best small cars, reliability, comfort and cost-effectiveness. The Ford Fiesta is quite roomy for a small car and with a 1.25 litre petrol engine, it is affordable in terms of insurance. Fiestas are easy to manoeuvre, offer a comfortable ride over long distances and have good safety features. They are also practical with a 290L boot space and the option of five doors. Although Fiestas are not the cheapest small car on the market, with a £5000 budget you could bag yourself a 2014 Zetec with alloy wheels and air-conditioning, or you could purchase an older model with lower mileage at a reduced rate.
2. Hyundai i10 2008-2013
This small car is one of the best city cars on the market. Hyundai has a history of producing cheap, competent cars, which offer good value for money and reliability. With a 1.2L engine, the i10 model has good agility and offers around 60mpg in fuel economy. Although its design is quite basic, with no unnecessary gimmicks, this small car is simple yet effective and can accommodate four adults comfortably. The Hyundai i10 is also fairly tall which makes the most of its relatively small interior and higher-spec versions also include an underfloor storage tray in the boot for extra storage space. If you’d prefer a more attractive model, this car was given a facelift in 2010 and the update is a sportier design with more contemporary features. You can now get a newer 15 reg model for under £5000 or the older version on a relatively low budget.
3. Volkswagen Polo 2009-2014
The Volkswagen Polo has been around since 1975 and more than 10 million have been sold worldwide. The fifth edition of this popular small car quickly became a favourite with British buyers and has won numerous awards including World Car of the Year 2010. The VW Polo is a high-quality, upmarket and grown-up option for those looking for their first car. They are hard-wearing, well-engineered and retain their value well as they age. The boot space is also impressive, offering up to 952L with the seats folded flat. Smaller and cheaper than a Golf, the Polo offers a comfortable ride and has few reliability issues as long as you stick with a manual petrol model. Available with either a 1.0L or 1.2L engine for new drivers, you can now buy a 2011 VW Polo for less than £5000 if you’re looking for an affordable option.
4. Vauxhall Corsa 2006-2014
Back in 2007, the Vauxhall Corsa won WhatCar?’s Car of the Year Award and this affordable small car continues to be a popular choice for new drivers buying their first car. Corsas are one of the best small cars because they’re reasonably spacious yet easy to park, their design is straightforward but smart and their running costs are low. They are also pretty economical, with petrol engines offering at least 50mpg and diesel models that can beat 60mpg. If you’re looking for something cheap to insure, you can choose either a 1.0L or 1.2L engine suitable for city driving, or for a car with more power, the 1.4L is a good all-rounder. Corsas do lose value quite quickly, but that means that there are always cheap deals available – just be aware that basic models don’t have driver’s seat height adjustment! You can now get a post-10 model with less than 50,000 miles for around £3000, making the Corsa a perfect budget car for a new driver.
5. Citroen C1 2005-2014
The Citroen C1 is a quirky little car which is both cheap to run and fun to drive. Due to its compact size, it is easy to park even in the smallest of spaces and its low emissions mean free road tax and even free entry into London’s Congestion Charge Zone. It may not be the most refined or punchiest small car on the market, but once it picks up speed it can cruise along the motorway comfortably. The C1 also averages around 65mpg, making it very economical. Its 1.0L engine also makes it very nippy around town and although its boot is only small, there are lots of handy compartments to store things. The newer C1 Connexion model even includes a telematics system as standard to help you reduce your insurance costs if you drive well. You can purchase a 2011-12 Citroen C1 in good condition for about £3000 and the more stylish updated version which came out in 2014, is now starting to appear on the used car market for under £5000! This is easily one of the best small cars for first time drivers!
These are just five of the best small cars for new drivers with a budget of £5000 and there are many more makes and models out there for you to choose from. Just remember that sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you should buy the first old banger you come across, even if it is a bargain, as these will usually end up costing you more in repairs in the long run!
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An English graduate from Yorkshire, currently living in Teesside. A lover of TV & film, music, tattoos and travelling!