Best cars for university students | AA Cars

If you’re heading off to university this year and you intend to take your car with you, it’s important you have the right model for the job. 

Keeping running costs down is key to many, along with making sure it’s affordable to insure and good value for money in the first place. 

If your university is in a city centre, you’ll also want it to be easy to drive and park – all factors we’ve considered with the cars that appear on this list.

So, here are 5 great cars for university students. 

Skoda Citigo

Ever since Skoda’s Citigo debuted in 2011 it’s been a great option for those wanting something affordable, reliable and cheap to run. 

You can choose it with either 3 or 5 doors, and both are roomier and more practical than you would expect a small car to be. It also looks the part, and is incredibly easy to drive as well. 

Another asset to the Citigo is that almost all versions featuring the 59bhp 1.0-litre MPI petrol engine sit in insurance group 1, which is the lowest, making this Skoda very affordable to insure. 

Used Skoda Citigos on AA Cars from £3,000 on AA Cars.

Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo is a popular choice for first drivers and students alike, as it offers something a bit more upmarket than a run-of-the-mill Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa. 

As it’s been around for some time, there are plenty of generations. Unsurprisingly, the newer and more tech-laden it gets, the more it will cost. The fifth-generation Polo, which was sold between 2009 and 2017, is a good option – being roomier, higher quality and more refined than its predecessor. 

Insurance premiums may be slightly higher, due to its upmarket image, but it should still be relatively affordable both in terms of cover and low running costs. 

Used fifth-generation Volkswagen Polos from £3,000 on AA Cars. 

Renault Zoe

An electric car isn’t everyone’s first thought, but they’re gradually becoming a more affordable option. And with many universities located in city centres, you should always be able to charge them. Some universities even allow students to charge on site for free.

If you’re looking for an affordable electric car, the Renault Zoe is a great option – a practical, well-equipped and increasingly affordable EV (prices now start from around £6,500). These cheaper examples don’t have the longest range – expect around 85 miles in the real world – but if you don’t intend to use your car outside of the city much, it’s a compelling option. 

However, there are some points to be aware of before you go for the electric option. For starters, all EVs tend to sit in higher insurance groups, due to their complexity if anything goes wrong. Also, many early Zoes are part of a leasing scheme, meaning you have to spend around £50 per month renting a battery from Renault. 

Used Renault Zoes from £6,500 on AA Cars.


If you want a more upmarket student car, or something a bit more stylish, consider the 3-door Mini Hatch. It’s a popular choice, often seen round city centres, and it’s a big hit with university students as well. Which is no surprise, given its youthful looks, fun driving experience and compact dimensions which make it a dream to park. 

Used Minis are more affordable than you might expect, with higher-mileage examples starting from around £1,000. But if your budget will stretch, we’d recommend going for a second-generation model (codenamed R56), which was sold between 2006 and 2013. Around £3,000 will buy a 2008 ‘One’ model with 75,000 miles on the clock. 

Just be aware that insurance premiums can sometimes be a bit higher than regular superminis because of the Mini’s more powerful engines. 

Used Minis from £1,000 on AA Cars.

Kia Rio 

Kia’s generous 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty means that even if you buy this car second-hand, you could still be covered. For a student, this is unusual, and could be worth taking advantage of.

This Kia might not be quite as stylish or appealing as other superminis, but in terms of value for money and peace of mind it’s unmatched. It also comes well-equipped, with the popular ‘SR7’ trim level offering alloy wheels, Bluetooth, parking sensors and air conditioning to name but a few touches. Low-output engines are also both good on fuel and great for insurance purposes as well. 

While used Kia Rios are available for as little as £1,400, we’d recommend a third-generation car (sold between 2011 and 2017). Buy a later 2016 car and it could be covered by Kia’s warranty throughout your time at university. 

Used Kia Rios from £1,400 on AA Cars.


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