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What car would you choose?
When you finally get the opportunity to tear off those L-plates after passing your driving test, it seems the world is suddenly yours to explore.
That is, as soon as you get your own set of wheels. It would seem logical to choose a similar model to the one that you learned in with your driving instructor. However, you might be surprised at how much their little runabout actually costs. So, lets take a look at the five most popular models that new buyers are likely to pick after completing their driver training.
Almost as scary as the price of a car these days is the cost of insurance, which helps herd new drivers toward these very low insurance group models.
Smaller models with low-power but efficient engines are increasingly popular and cheap to run, with some doing as much as 60 miles to the gallon.
They generally have good NCAP ratings and usually include some modern luxuries for a more comfortable driving experience.
1. Hyundai i10
Among the most efficient models is the Hyundai i10, with a range of one-litre engines and great reviews to its name.
New models come with the bonus of an unlimited mileage warranty, free roadside assistance and free health checks to help keep those running costs down. Second-hand models will be a lot less than the £8,500 starting price, and as it’s a relatively modern design, should still be cheap when it comes to maintenance.
If you fancy a bit of luxury then there’s an optional metallic paint job for new cars, while the Blue Drive model includes stop/start engine management to make it even more efficient.
2. Volkswagen Up
Also very popular is the Volkswagen Up, which comes with a brand name that screams reliability to please the parents and also offers a range of one-litre engines, for not much more than the i10 (you’ll need the 74bhp engine for motorway use).
There’s also an automatic version if that’s a requirement, and reviews say that the Volkswagen is a little more comfortable than most of its competitors.
If the VW prices are a little steep, note that the very similar Skoda Citigo and the Seat Mii are both based around the same design, so you could pick one of those if they have some better options or colours that you might prefer, perhaps for a decent saving.
3. Vauxhall Corsa
Vauxhall’s dinky new Adam isn’t really a first buyer’s car, so, while the design is a little older than some of the space-age models out there, the venerable Corsa remains Vauxhall’s most popular model for new drivers.
With three and five-door options, it is considered easy to drive and cheap to maintain.
Prices start at around £9,000 and go all the way up to £16,000, with a rather hectic 12 models in the range. At the lower end, there are several one litre models to choose from for new drivers, and the Sting entry-level model is packed with extras including airbags, ABS, emergency brake assist, immobiliser, CD/radio with AUX in and power steering. Plus, the Corsa comes with a larger boot than most to cram in extra gear or shopping.
4. Chevrolet Spark
The Chevrolet Spark is a fun, if quirky looking, recent addition to the market.
With a good ride and driver visibility, it offers decent space for passengers at the cost of a smaller than average boot if you need to do the family shopping in it.
Also, the engine is a little less efficient and noisier than its contemporaries, only doing 55mpg, with 1.0 and 1.2 litre options. While the dash design looks reasonably modern, there’s not much in the way of extras in the cheaper models. However,
Chevy is trying to promote the Spark with a five year, 100,000 mile warranty, which should see the car lasting well into the distance.
5. Ford Ka
Finally, the Ford Ka seems to have been around for ages now (it was designed alongside the new Fiat 500, sharing the same engine), but the recent redesign makes it look very contemporary.
However, its a bit low-spec, with some models lacking air-conditioning and having a rather cheap plastic look inside. Also, the new range only comes a single 1.2 litre engine type, making it a little more expensive to insure as a Group 3 or up vehicle. It offers decent fuel efficiency, and will actually run reasonably on the motorway, unlike some of the one litre cars.
As it’s a Ford, the Ka is always cheap for parts and repairs.
So, while the “your first car” dream might not quite be met by these models, they all offer a safe, affordable and efficient way of getting around, until you have enough experience for a larger model. Ensure you book a test drive to get the feel of the cars you prefer and then dive into the options to find the best amount of extras you can get for your money.