The Best First Cars to Buy in the UK

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by ratewise

Your first car holds a special place in your life. After buying, you will remember every detail of your first car for the rest of your life. However, everyone wants these memories to be pleasant and not something that makes you feel disappointed with your decision.

Affording the best first car is a dream of many, and numerous financial deals have made it feasible.

A good first car should be easy to drive, requiring minimal maintenance. Moreover, it must have the latest safety standards with modern engineering involved making them reliable.

Many first-time buyers prefer buying a used car, but a brand-new option comes with its advantages. It comes with a standard warranty for a few years, and there are lower chances of any mechanical problems. 

Guide to buying the best first car

Let us discuss some points that must be considered before buying your best first car.

Car insurance

A vehicle is a commitment, and insurance costs are among the things that you have to consider. This is problematic in the case of a new owner because the insurer knows that they lack experience.

Stay out of trouble for the first year to get a no-claim discount when you renew the insurance. There are some free insurance finance deals, but they may raise the monthly payments and that will be a burden on your pocketbook.

A no-claim discount is an added advantage, and you can fit an insurer approved black box to boost this discount. This device monitors your driving and helps the insurer to review your driving performance.

The insurer can tell you about the points where you lack in the driving experience. Improving your driving performance will give you a good score resulting in a reduction in the payments for your insurance coverage.


Set the budget as it will help you buy your best first car without any additional monetary burden. Some sellers charge extra to first-time buyers as they assume that a person is unaware of the vehicle and its related expenses.

You must ask the seller about minute details if you think they are overcharging for a car. Setting a limit and discussing it with a seller can help you avoid any extra costs they try to tack on.

Also, consider the expenses of road tax and an MOT test. You will need to replace the tyres after some time, or you will be fined for using low-quality tyres.

Long-term value

You must consider the long-term value of your best first car before buying. Maybe after some time, you may want to sell it and buy yourself a new one.

It is essential to know that a car you are buying will retain its value after some years. The value of newer car models depreciates up to 35% in the first year and continues up to 50% over the next three years.

Fuel efficiency

The make and model of a car is directly related to fuel efficiency. Some models are more fuel-efficient than others, and thus it is a crucial point to consider, especially when you are going to buy your first car.

Owning the best first car will be worth it when you mindfully examine the related expenses too. Hybrid vehicles save more fuel than regular cars. 

New or used

A brand-new car can be on the high end budget-wise, so a used set of wheels makes sense when it comes to your budget. You may consider buying a used car from a dealer or a reseller.

All you need is to do extensive research on used vehicle conditions. Check the registration document and service history. If you are new to driving, then a used car is an excellent option to go with.

The next steps

When you are satisfied with the points mentioned above, it’s time to take a test drive.

However, if you do not get an opportunity for a test drive (because the dealer or used car owner doesn’t want to allow it), then make sure to step back as it will be risky to buy that product.

Choosing the best first car is a time-consuming process, so you should not make any decision in haste.

However, if you are going for a test drive, then ensure the engine is cold initially. A warm engine may hide problems. Keep the following things in mind while driving.

  • Examine the car’s behaviour as you accelerate. Pay attention to any excessive vibrations or odd sounds.
  • Test the clutch’s biting point.
  • Drive over 80kmh because some problems can be masked at low speed.
  • Examine the gear shifts as they should be smooth.
  • Test the car brakes. How does it feel while applying brakes? Does it feel soft, or do you need to exert a lot of pressure?
  • Check whether the steering wheel vibrates when driving.

Top picks for the best and most popular car models in the UK

Let us look at the popular choices of the best first car in the UK.

Ford Fiesta

ford fiesta - ratewise
Ford Fiesta – 77,833 registrations

The Fiesta offers plenty of choices when it comes to looks. You can choose the regular one or a sporty-looking Fiesta with a 1.1L petrol engine. The regular entry-level Fiesta has large 16inch alloy wheels, sharp-edged bumps, an electronic stability program, an alarm, and the NCAP pack includes safety features like alert, lane-keeping aid, and speed limiter.

The Fiesta combines the fun of a small car and the luxury of a big car. It is a popular choice for the best first car.

TheST-Line models are sporty with a firmer suspension and offer an extremely controlled ride. Sharp well-weighted and precise steering makes the handling smoother.

It has a smooth and quiet engine. Some versions with more substantial wheels produce road noise, but it is not irritating. The Fiesta brake, accelerator, and clutch pedals are weighted positively, and it makes the drive smooth. Most versions have a six-speed manual gearbox.

Volkswagen Polo

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Volkswagen Polo – 37,453 registrations

The Volkswagen Polo model is bigger and better to drive. It comes with a classy, modern interior and fuel-efficient engine. Volkswagen Polo is bridging the gap between affordable small cars and luxurious premium pricy models.

The entry-level 1.0L petrol engine with 94bhp is the best pick of the range. The 1.6 TDI should be avoided as it is slightly flat at low revs. Volkswagen Polo is a smooth-riding car in its class.

It comes with well-weighted steering with plenty of grip thread for when you are going through a series of bends at fast speeds. This can be a good first car as it is easy to drive and boosts confidence in driving.

Though the petrol engine is somewhat noisy during acceleration, there will be no engine vibration coming up through the steering wheel or pedals. It comes in either a diesel or petrol engine, you will not hear much at 70mph steady cruising. 

Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10 - ratewise
Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 is a perfect city car giving you an easy drive in urban traffic. You will not be stressed when finding a parking space because of its dinky size. The stylish Hyundai i10 is worth considering and fun to drive.

Entry-level 67PS 1.0 MPi is reliable, but you can consider 84PS, 1.2 MPi four-cylinder engines if you frequently hit the highways. Both engine types have a five-speed manual gearbox providing excellent performance.

Hyundai i10 is a revolution when it comes to the comfiest urban transportation. Large 16inch wheels avoid wobbling over large potholes and bumpy surfaces.

Its light steering and tight turning radius give it a driving blast. You can hear some vibration when the steering wheel is idle, but it is not annoying and best in class.

The brakes are flexible to starting and stopping in traffic. It comes with a height-adjustable steering wheel and driver seat. The seat steering wheel and pedals line up adequately so you will not feel any pain or ache if driving for long hours.

Hyundai i10 is one of the best first car choices, especially for new car owners.  

Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto - ratewise
Kia Picanto

Kia’s regular model comes with standard five doors, and you have a choice between an automatic or manual gearbox powered by three petrol engines. The firm suspension restricts bouncing around bumpy roads.

Picanto’s steering is light at low speeds, and a tight turning radius allows you to park easily in tight parking spaces.

Picanto’s come with only five gears that produce a bit of noise. Brakes are easy to operate, and thus, smooth driving is not an issue in traffic. A clutch action and nice shifts accompany the manual gearbox.

The driver seat is supportive and comfortable with an adjustable height feature, and the dashboard layout is simple, with big buttons allowing for easy access while driving.

The car has a solid interior that is graced with superior quality material. Kia Picanto is airy and full, unlike the other city cars. If you are looking for an affordable best first car option, then Kia Picanto is a perfect choice.

Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa - ratewise
Vauxhall Corsa – 54,239 registrations

Vauxhall Corsa could be the best first car choice that you can proudly buy as a new car owner of any age. Pricing and affordable insurance make it a big hit. The 1.2 L turbocharged petrol engine offers flexibility and acceleration at low speeds.

The 1.5 102 turbo diesel engine is more reliable than the petrol engine options. The Vauxhall Corsa easily handles bumps like drain covers and potholes.

The steering is lightweight and twirling the wheel into limited parking spaces is not a big deal. It is stable with a good grip and produces a bit of road and wind noise as the vehicle accelerates, but it is not unpleasant.

Air-conditioning is easily controlled by a button rather than a touch screen. Corsa can be the best first car as it is offered at an affordable price.

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Categories: Car Finance
Tags: UK