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Top 10: best used cars for learner drivers

Costs for new drivers are spiralling, so read our top 10 list of the best used cars for learners that are less than £10,000 and have group three insurance or lower.....

14 Oct 2019 16:08

Nobody should discriminate based on age, but it seems the odds are stacked against new drivers, especially the younger ones, from the start.

Used car compilation image

Aside from the expense of learning to drive and taking the test, it’s often the high costs of insurance that puts most teenagers off driving.

That’s where we can help (although not with the cost, sorry), because we’ve put together a list of the most affordable used city cars and small cars with low insurance groups. None on this list has an insurance group higher than three, making each perfect for a new driver. That way, you should be able to get a competitive quote for coverage. Plus, no entry on this shortlist will cost more than £10,000 to buy.

So read on to find out what's the best car for new drivers, counting down from the highest insurance group to the lowest.

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10: Ford Ka+

Ford Ka+

The lesser-known Ford Ka+ may not be the belle of the small car ball, but it's one of the more spacious cars in the class in the rear.

It’s also quite nice to drive, and the pre-facelift model has the slightly more refined four-cylinder engine, rather than the occasionally rough three-cylinder example in later ones.

10: Ford Ka+ - interior

Ford Ka+ - interior

And while that engine maybe relatively large in capacity, it’s only in group three for insurance and manages 56.5mpg.

We found: 2016 Ford Ka+ 1.2 Studio, 21,091 miles, £5495

9: Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa

Of course the Vauxhall Corsa was going to feature in a list of learners cars. Many reading this will either be taking their test, or have just passed it in one, due in no small part to the fact that the Corsa is so easy to drive.

All the control weights are easy to get along with, visibility is good and running costs are low. Even though it has the largest engine on the list, it still manages 55.4mpg, and its competitive 74bhp means that it has group three insurance.

9: Vauxhall Corsa - interior

Vauxhall Corsa - interior

The Energy example we found is loaded with kit, including a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, air conditioning, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Plus, it’s inexpensive, making it a very affordable set of wheels for newbies.

We found: 2017 Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 Energy 5dr, 10,000 miles, £6495

8: Seat Ibiza

Seat Ibiza

Perhaps a bit cooler than the Corsa, the Seat Ibiza is an award-winning small car with a big boot and plenty of space for mates in the rear, plus it's nice to drive.

8: Seat Ibiza - interior

Seat Ibiza - interior

You can still get an SE Technology example within our insurance group three limit, with all the equipment you’d expect and an intuitive 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system. Fuel economy can’t quite match some of the others here, at 57.6mpg, but then the Ibiza is one of the largest cars in its class.

We found: 2018 Seat Ibiza 1.0 SE Technology, 14,310 miles, £9490

7: Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10

Like many of the other cars on this list, the Hyundai i10 is a cinch to drive, but it also has slim window pillars at the front for excellent forward visibility and plenty of rear leg room for taller passengers.

7: Hyundai i10 - interior

Hyundai i10 - interior

Its 1.0-litre engine may not be a powerhouse, but economy is decent at 60.1mpg and it sits down in insurance group two.

We found: 2019 Hyundai i10 1.0 S, 3500 miles, £7790

6= Seat Mii

Seat Mii

The first of a set of triplet city cars on our list is the Seat Mii, but that doesn’t make it the worst choice by a long shot.

No, if you want something sportier, it’s the one to go for - particularly in FR Line guise, because then it gets some snazzy 16in alloy wheels, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, front foglights and sports suspension.

6= Seat Mii - interior

Seat Mii - interior

Just because it looks sporty, doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot to run it, since insurance is only group two and it sips fuel at a rate of 64.2mpg.

We found: 2018 Seat Mii 1.0 FR Line 5dr, 3401 miles, £7995

6= Skoda Citigo

Skoda Citigo

The Skoda Citigo is just as practical as its Seat and Volkswagen siblings, but the package as a whole is a touch more restrained and sensible.

6= Skoda Citigo - interior

Skoda Citigo - interior

You can get a more economical Greentech version for better fuel economy (68.9mpg) and still enjoy the same low insurance group of two.

We found: 2019 Skoda Citigo 1.0 Greentech SE 5dr, 3801 miles, £7500

4: Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen Up

Our 2020 Used City Car of the Year is a great choice for new drivers, because it's nice to drive, has easy-to-judge dimensions and a peppy engine.

All that’s true of its Mii and Citigo siblings, but the Up has a classier interior and holds its value better, so it’ll be worth more than the others when you’re done with it.

4: Volkswagen Up - interior

Volkswagen Up - interior

Its official economy figure is one of the best around, at 64.2mpg, while group two insurance will keep a smile on your face.

We found: 2017 Volkswagen Up 1.0 Take Up 5dr, 10,358 miles, £6491

3: Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra

This is the start of the group one insurance cars, which isn’t too surprising for the Nissan Micra, because not only does it have automatic emergency braking to help prevent you from getting into a low-speed collision but also lane departure warning to keep you on the straight and narrow.

3: Nissan Micra - interior

Nissan Micra - interior

Its interior is pretty smart, too, and it’s rather frugal, at 61.4mpg.

We found: 2017 Nissan Micra 1.0 Acenta, 20,566 miles

2: Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo

Like the Seat Ibiza we talked about earlier, the Volkswagen Polo is a spacious small car with plenty of equipment as standard.

It may not be quite as darty to drive as the Spanish alternative, but then it's quieter once on the move and drops down into insurance group one, weirdly making the classier car the cheaper of the two to run if you’re young.

2: Volkswagen Polo - interior

Volkswagen Polo - interior

You don’t have to do for the glacially slow 64bhp version in order to get low insurance, either, because the more powerful 74bhp 1.0-litre (capable of 60.1mpg) also manages to get into the lowest group.

We found: 2018 Volkswagen Polo 1.0 75 SE, 11,967, £9944

1: Skoda Fabia

Skoda Fabia

It may not be the newest small car design, but the Skoda Fabia is still a really good package for new drivers.

The clutch is easy to operate, the steering is light, all the controls have a slick and precise feel and the outward visibility is really good. SE models, like the example we found, even get rear parking sensors as standard, so there’ll be no embarrassing crunches made in front of your friends as you back into a space.

1: Skoda Fabia - interior

Skoda Fabia - interior

In fact, the Fabia comes with all the latest technology, such as a touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity and automatic emergency braking, the latter of which contributes to the Fabia’s group one insurance rating.

Couple that to 57.6mpg fuel economy and the affordable price of a used Fabia and you have the best-value package for new drivers.

We found: 2017 Skoda Fabia 1.0 SE, 13,376 miles, £6599