Five of the best cars for first-time drivers

Date Posted 23rd December 2021
Read Time 11 min read

Buying your first car is a rite of passage that gives you the independence you crave, and means you no longer need to rely on public transport or lifts from friends and family to get around. Naturally, joining the ranks of drivers on the UK’s roads and motorways is an exciting time.

What’s more, if you are a parent looking for a vehicle for the new driver in the family, then you’ll be just as excited at the prospect of getting the household’s young drivers the right car.

No matter which side you’re coming from, getting a car for a newly-qualified driver can be daunting with so many considerations to bear in mind. You will have to think about insurance, maintenance and, of course, fuel and on-road running costs. Of course, when it comes to choosing your new ride, you’ll have to figure out what your priorities are. Whether it’s safety for inexperienced drivers; style for the image-conscious new driver; or affordable insurance and running costs for drivers on a budget.

And because Hippo Leasing wants to help you make the right decision, we’ve included key figures for all our cars: their top speed; fuel efficiency (in mpg or miles per gallon); insurance group; emissions band (in grams per kilometre or g/km) and EURO NCAP safety rating.

Five of the best new cars for first-time drivers

We’ve thought long and hard about what a new driver in 2021 requires and can offer you what we think are five of the best new cars for drivers looking for their first set of wheels. Naturally, we don’t think a first vehicle should break anyone’s budget. That’s why all our vehicles come in at a competitive and affordable monthly rate.

Search all of our new and used car deals and find the right first car for you today.

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a quirky model boasting loads of character. It’s fun to drive, cheap to run and that makes it perfect to consider for a driver who has just passed their driving test and is on a budget. The only shortfall is a EURO NCAP safety score of three, but other than that this is a hatchback for drivers who love to express themselves. Search our Fiat 500 lease deals for more information.

  •         Top Speed: 99mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 60.1mpg
  •         Insurance group: 8U
  •         Emissions: Band B (110 g/km)
  •         Euro NCAP safety rating: 3

Vauxhall Adam

A stylish city-car from British manufacturer Vauxhall, the Adam is a fantastic choice for new drivers. Good-looking and economical, it also happens to be the quickest vehicle in our five with a top speed of 103mph. A EURO NCAP rating of four means it scores highly for road safety – great for peace of mind on the road. Find the right Adam lease deal for you today.

  •         Top Speed: 103mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 53.3mpg
  •         Insurance group: 2E
  •         Emissions: Band D (125g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 4

Kia Picanto

Korean automaker Kia’s entry-level vehicle, the Picanto, makes a lot of sense for many city-dwellers, not just those looking for a first car. The Kia Picanto is an environmentally friendly hatch that won’t hurt your wallet thanks to being able to deliver a frugal 64.2mpg and just 101g/km of CO2 emissions. Ideal for the urban new driver.

  •         Top Speed: 100mph
  •         Fuel consumption: 64.2mpg
  •         Insurance group: 4E
  •         Emissions: Band B (101g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 3

Citroen C1

The cleanest and most fuel-efficient of the five new cars we have selected for first time drivers, the Citroen C1 is a serious contender with its reliability and tons of tech and safety features. It boasts stylish French panache to keep you looking trendy all over town as soon as you pass your test. Learn more about the fuel-saving Citroen C1 here.

  •         Top Speed: 99mph
  •         Fuel consumption: 68.9mpg
  •         Insurance group: 8E
  •         Emissions: Band A (93g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 4

Hyundai i10

It may be the most expensive model on our list, but the Hyundai i10 offers superior comfort for drivers, and the super compact design makes the model a fantastic entry point for Korean automaker Hyundai’s excellent range of cars. With a frugal fuel consumption of 60.1mpg, this motor keeps on going and going whilst obtaining a good safety rating and reasonable running costs.

  •         Top Speed: 97mph
  •         Fuel consumption: 60.1mpg
  •         Insurance group: 2D
  •         Emissions: Band B (108g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 4

These five cars are all winners in our book when it comes to getting a contract hire or personal lease plan for a first car. However, if you already know that you can save money by opting for a deal on a used car – Hippo offers excellent lease deals on in-stock used cars, and here are five of the best that are excellent value for money…

Five of the best used cars for first-time drivers

Second-hand cars offer excellent value for money for the same or a similar monthly payment as a brand-new car. As a result, you can lease a better vehicle than you would otherwise afford new. Check out the five used cars below for similar prices to our new models and decide on the perfect ride for you.

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is a great all-rounder, and that is reflected in the model’s popularity on the world’s roads. It might require higher monthly payments than four of our five brand-new cars, however, for the money, you will get more space, a classy interior, and a decent amount of equipment to match. What makes the Fiesta a modern classic is its smart design, coupled with it being super fun to drive too – perfect if you have just got onto the roads and need a car that is agile and easy to handle.

  •         Top Speed: 104mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 54.3mpg
  •         Insurance group: 7E
  •         Emissions: Band C (120g/kms)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 5

Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo is a super popular and desirable car and ubiquitous on roads, especially in Europe. If you opt for a used car lease deal, it can work out cheaper than an entry-level car. As an example, a new Volkswagen Up! city-car will set you back more than the frugal VW Polo. What’s more, it is a practical and great looking vehicle that is easy to drive for less experienced drivers, all topped off with a perfect EURO NCAP safety rating.

  •         Top Speed: 108mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 83.1
  •         Insurance group: 13E
  •         Emissions: Band A (93g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 5

Peugeot 208

A supremely comfortable vehicle to drive and the quickest used car on this list, the Peugeot 208 delivers a lot of ‘bang’ for your buck. The five-star EURO NCAP score makes it an extremely safe car to drive. It also boasts fuel-efficient engines and low emissions making it cheap to run. What’s not to love?

  •         Top Speed: 111mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 62.8mpg
  •         Insurance group: 8E
  •         Emissions Band: B (104g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 5

Volkswagen Up!

The used VW Up! is the cheapest car on our list, and offers excellent value for the money, making it a great choice for most urban drivers, not just those after their first vehicle. The Up! is in car insurance group 1, making it the cheapest of the five to insure. A nifty car with all the specs needed to reach from A to B safely, the Up! is a compact gem that ticks many boxes.

  •         Top Speed: 99mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 62.8mpg
  •         Insurance group: 1E
  •         Emissions: Band B (105g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 5

Toyota Aygo

The Toyota Aygo is the ultimate city-car that can give new drivers a safe and fun driving experience without breaking the bank. It is incredibly stylish, boasts a fuel-saving engine and the interior is decently spacious with quality materials. The Aygo has been made perfectly for driving through town, but it can handle itself confidentially at higher speeds too.

  •         Top Speed: 99mph
  •         Fuel Consumption: 68.9mpg
  •         Insurance group: 7E
  •         Emissions: Band A (95g/km)
  •         EURO NCAP safety rating: 4

What do first time drivers need to know before they purchase a car?

Before you make any commitment to buying your first car, there is a lot to bear in mind, and most of it involves your wallet. That’s why we advise you to look at how far your budget can go.

Cars all require insurance, and they all consume fuel – unless electric. Unfortunately, they also have a life-span, and so repairs can be an outgoing cost. This applies to some cars more than others – especially for cars older than five years old.

So, should you go for a new or used car? That’s for you to decide. The biggest benefit of newly-registered cars is that they do not require MOT for the first three years and will come with better efficiencies than their used counterparts. Plus, with that comes lower taxes than their older cars of the same model. What’s more, a maintenance plan can negate the need for regular spending on services. But you need to ask yourself, will that offset the significantly cheaper monthly payments of a used car?

Likewise, if you decide to lease a used car, you need to ask yourself if the monthly saving of a second-hand car is costing you less in the long run when you factor in MOT, servicing and the relevant tax?

At Hippo Leasing we understand that it’s imperative that you choose the right first car for you. Something that fits with your available budget, lifestyle and driving requirements overall. That’s why we have a large range of ideal new and used first-cars that are cheap to run, low in monthly costs and very reliable.

For more information about leasing a brand new car or a used car from Hippo Leasing, contact us at or 01254 956666 and a member of the team will get back to you to discuss your needs and answer all your first car questions.

Update: this article was first published in 2016, and has been updated for re-publication in 2021. It is important to highlight that electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid cars have become widely available to drivers now. In addition, many new drivers are learning and passing on automatic vehicles, another can feature that is widely available on most new, and some used, vehicles. Visit the Hippo Leasing blog for more car advice, guides and information.

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