f you’re learning to drive or have just passed your test, getting your own car can feel like a big step towards freedom.
Unfortunately, learning to drive and buying a car is an expensive process, particularly when you throw insurance costs into the mix.
While you should always get a quote before buying regardless of how long you’ve had your licence, it’s especially important when it comes to being a new driver.
That said, getting a first car doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s 5 five great choices for less than £5,000.
The Skoda Citigo absolutely nails the brief for a first car. It’s small, easy to drive, looks cool and is great on safety. The Citigo, which reached showrooms in 2012, is a sister product to the Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up!, any of which would be a brilliant first motor.
Insurance groups range from just 1 to 4 thanks to its small 1.0-litre petrol engines, but look out for the 59bhp version, which sits in the lowest group. With this, Skoda says it will return more than 60mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 105g/km meaning it will cost just £20 per year to tax (Pre April 2017 models).
Skoda Citigos are available from £2,500, but £5,000 can get you a 2015 car with around 50,000 miles on the clock.
The Hyundai i10 is one of the most accomplished city cars around, and is a truly superb first car. Like the Citigo, its dinky dimensions make it easy to park, while light controls make it simple to drive too. While at its best around town, the i10 is impressively refined at higher speeds too.
The i10 debuted in 2007, with these versions available from as little as £1,500 – but if your budget will stretch, it’s worth upgrading to the second-generation, which came along in 2014. Prices for these start from around £4,000. Either a 66bhp 1.0-litre or 87bhp 1.2-litre petrol is available, but the less powerful version is the one to go for, as these sit in insurance group 1, next to 6 for the 1.2-litre engine. It will return a claimed 60mpg with £20 car tax – making it a very affordable option.
Continuing with South Korean manufacturers, our next first car choice is the Kia Rio. It might lack the street cred of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, but this Kia makes up for it in value.
A £5,000 budget will stretch to a 2014 or 2015 car (third-generation), and thanks to Kia’s generous 7-year warranty, the car will still be covered by the manufacturer. Various engine options are available, but if you’re keeping an eye on insurance premiums, you should choose the entry-level 74bhp 1.1-litre diesel in ‘1 Air’ grade, which sits in the lowest insurance group. It’s the only diesel on this list, and is by far the most fuel efficient. Kia claims it’ll return nearly 90mpg, while exceptionally low CO2 emissions of 85g/km make it free to tax.
If you want your first car to make a statement, there are few better choices than a Fiat 500. Since this chic hatchback was revived by the firm in 2007, the 500 has been a huge hit, and very popular with style-conscious first-time car buyers.
A whole suite of trims, special editions and personalisation options are available on this Fiat, but if you want to keep your insurance premiums down, you should look out for versions featuring the 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine. It’s worth noting that the 500 sits in higher insurance groups than others on this list – a low-spec Pop model falls into group 5, for example. If you fancy a few more luxuries, the Lounge version is a great choice – adding alloy wheels and a glass roof.
Running costs remain low, too – with this engine the 500 returns a claimed 55.4mpg, while CO2 emissions of 119g/km mean it costs just £30 per year to tax. It’s also not as pricey as you might expect, with versions available from just £2,300.
For years the Volkswagen Polo has been a popular first car choice, offering something a bit more upmarket than your run-of-the-mil hatchback. With a £5,000 budget, you should look at the fifth-generation Polo, which was sold between 2009 and 2017. Do this and you’ll get a high-quality interior and impressive levels of spaciousness for such a small car.
As it’s a more premium option, Polo values remain high, and even earlier models still cost around £3,000 for a high-mileage example. So if your budget allows, £4,000 will get you a better example with fewer miles. For the lowest insurance premiums, look out for examples with the non-turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine, with either 59bhp or 69bhp. These sit in insurance premiums 4 and 6 respectively. This engine’s not quite as efficient as other models here, with higher CO2 emissions meaning you’ll pay £125 in car tax, though VW claims it’ll still return 50mpg.