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Rated Excellent
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FREE & Fast Delivery
Lowest Price Guaranteed
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Rated Excellent
Road Tax & Roadside Assistance Included
FREE & Fast Delivery

Best Cars For New Drivers 2023

Best cars for new drivers 2023

By Mark Nichol - Updated 10/3/23

If you've recently passed your driving test or you're looking to get a car for someone who has, you need to make sure you’re choosing a suitable car. Or if you're learning to drive, it is handy to look ahead to see what type of car you could be getting behind the wheel of once you've passed your test.

You should choose a car that is safe, moderately well-equipped, cheap to insure and also good on running costs. With fuel prices being what they are these days, choosing the most economical car within your budget is an important factor. A big boot, a high driving position and interesting in-car tech are all bonuses too.

So, we’ve picked 10 cars that fit the brief really well, each great for a first-time driver. Choosing the entry-level trim on these options will keep costs down, but choosing a slightly more expensive monthly cost does add some additional safety features for some models.

10 Best First Cars For New Drivers

Volkswagen Up

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It’s hard to overstate just how revolutionary the Volkswagen Up was when it landed in 2011. It’s still one of the best city cars around more than a decade on. On the surface it’s a simple one-box design with a quite sparse cabin, but it absolutely nails all the basics. A brilliant driving position, a cabin fit for four tall people, refined road manners even at higher speed, and a 54mpg petrol engine that sounds great. Basically it offers big-car space and feel but in a small, simple and cost-effective package.

Renault Clio

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The latest Renault Clio has in many ways gone back to what made the award-winning original so good 30-odd years ago: a small car with the qualities of a big car. The cabin feels very high quality - lots of soft touch plastics - and a sense of calming refinement makes the Clio a really relaxed motorway car. We’d stick with the basic 1.0-litre petrol model, which has more than enough power, and because the Clio is well equipped across the range, you won’t need any more than base trim. Alloy wheels, climate control, parking sensors, wireless phone charging – they’re all standard fit.

Peugeot 208


The latest Peugeot 208 is one of the most stylish cars on the road. That applies in the cabin too, where a multi-layered, multi-texture cockpit makes it feel ten years ahead of its time. There’s even a fancy 3D instrument display – albeit you’ll need a higher-level trim for that. All the engines are easy on fuel, especially the 60mpg-plus diesel, but the petrol models will get you a good 50mpg. The tiny steering wheel might not suit taller drivers, and nor does the cabin feel very spacious, but if you're looking for a truly great-looking small car then you won't go far wrong looking at 208 leasing deals.

Fiat 500 Electric 

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The new Fiat 500 is electric-only, which is why Fiat has kept selling the old 500 alongside it, but the improvement here is huge. On a basic level it’s just a better car, despite the familiar looks, with a much more comfortable driving position and improved cabin quality. It’s still quite dinky, with tight rear space and a small boot, but two battery choices (24kWh and 42kWh) mean you can choose a lower price point if you don’t drive too far on a daily basis; the range of the smaller battery version is 118 miles, and the bigger one 199 miles. It’s great to steer, with all the fun of the petrol 500 but much quieter, comfier and more refined. This is one super-stylish and affordable EV.

MINI Hatchback

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The MINI is a brilliant thing to drive. Millions of words are already dedicated to this view, and the MINI remains a benchmark for small-car handling dynamics. The low-set seat, heavy-ish steering feel and perfectly placed pedal position mean that the MINI feels more like a sports car to drive than a runabout. The 1.5-litre,136hp Cooper model is the best for getting the most out of the chassis without costing a fortune.

Dacia Sandero

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Now that Skoda has gone upmarket, Dacia has picked up the ‘value motoring’ mantle by offering cars that are, first and foremost, cost-effective. The Sandero is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK, no less. So while the Sandero doesn’t feel especially plush inside, it’s still a really appealing small hatchback and a massive improvement over the outgoing model. It’s spacious, rides comfortably, feels well made and if you opt for a higher level model it’s surprisingly well-equipped. Its unusual trump card is the bi-fuel version, which can run on either petrol or cheaper LPG, making a Dacia Sandero lease even cheaper.

Hyundai i10

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A Hyundai i10 lease basically does the same job as the Volkswagen Up, giving you a surprising amount of interior space from a very small footprint, but it does so with more style and personality. Some cost-cutting is apparent, like how the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, but clever use of glossy plastics, geometric shapes and a fancy looking touchscreen make it feel a lot less ‘basic’ than it might. The 67hp 1.0-litre petrol engine is all you need and it's rated at 65mpg, making the i10 really cheap to run and insure. It’s pretty good fun to drive too.

Volkswagen Polo

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The Volkswagen Polo has a reputation for being on the expensive side compared to other small cars. In reality, though, the costs are about on par with most small hatchbacks. Its brilliant residual values make leasing rates very reasonable, and it has a range of very efficient petrol engines. It’s a safe car too, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating that includes a 94 percent score for adult occupant safety. Features like automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist come as standard. Keep an eye on our Polo leasing deals and you may get one for much less than you thought.

Suzuki Swift

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If you want a first car that will prove very reliable and is also a lot of fun to drive, the Suzuki Swift should be top of your list. It doesn’t matter which version you choose either. The Swift is one of those cars that just feels… right. It’s really easy to drive – light steering and pedals, a great driving position and good visibility – and its high roofline means it feels spacious throughout. Whichever engine you choose you’ll get a good 45-50mpg around the doors, which means it’s easy on the wallet as well.

Toyota Aygo X

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The Aygo X (pronounced ‘Cross’) is what you get when you cross a city car with an SUV. It takes up hardly any space on the road, yet its tall, chunky styling gives it a real sense of space inside, and a taller driving position means visibility is great. Even the boot is a reasonable size, more akin to what you’d find in something bigger, like a Ford Fiesta. It’s surprisingly good fun to drive too, thanks to sharp steering and a characterful three-cylinder engine. Precious little else gives you this sort of SUV style in such a small package.

Cars For New Drivers FAQs

Can new drivers lease a car? If you’ve just passed your driving test, then leasing might be the perfect choice for new drivers. Leasing a brand new car gives you the peace of mind you want when it comes to a new driver as you know the car will be reliable and comes with a full manufacturer's warranty. Leasing is also the most affordable way to get into a fresh new vehicle.

What should new drivers avoid when looking for a first car? The key to an ideal first-time driver’s car is to have as small an engine as possible. Insurance companies won’t touch you if you pick something that’s fast and loud as your first set of wheels. The leasing costs for higher powered vehicles are higher too, naturally.

What are the safest cars for new drivers? All new cars are put through their paces in rigorous Euro NCAP crash tests and awarded a star rating out of 5 to help you compare and understand which cars are the safest to drive. You’ll find these ratings in our vehicle pages where you can also check out what kind of safety technology and assistance the car includes.

Can new drivers lease a car with a black box to reduce insurance costs? With a ‘black box’ policy, the insured driver agrees to have a device fitted to the vehicle (or an app installed to their smartphone) that monitors driving behaviour. Linked to GPS, the device monitors speed, location, travel times and distances, and even things like cornering speed and brake force. All this paints a picture of how safe the driver is, which can reduce insurance premiums, especially for younger drivers deemed “high risk.” You should check with your insurance company to see if black box insurance is available on a car you’re about to lease. If not, shop around for a company that will.

For more advice and insights on motoring, take a look at our car guides and features. If you’d like to know more about how car leasing works, take a look at our car leasing explainers or, if you’re ready to pick your next car, check out our latest car leasing deals.

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