Best first brand-new buys

Best first brand-new buys

For years, you’ve been driving a cherished, but second-hand nonetheless, vehicle and now you want a vehicle you can own straight from the production line. But, with the costs of running a vehicle ever-increasing, you want something that gives you value for money in terms of affordability, running costs and standard equipment as well as safety and a certain amount of coolness.

But not all that can be achieved. We’ve found 20 cars out of which we reckon you could find your ideal first car – based off of whatever’s important to you. We’ve considered price, (to buy and to insure), safety, specifications and what comes as standard. On this list, we’ve included some household favourite names, a few low-cost buys which don’t feel cheap at all, a couple of surprises and even a cheeky electric option – all available to buy from brand-new.

Every safety rating has been taken from the official NCAP test data, available on their website. They rigorously crash-test new vehicles to see how much safety they provide to drivers, passengers and pedestrians in a range of situations.

Skoda Citigo

Price: from £8,890, finance of £118.51 a month.

Insurance (out of 50): Insurance group 1 or 2

Safety: 5* NCAP safety rating.

Standard Equipment: ABS (Automatic Braking System), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), central locking, aux cord and USB port.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox. 0-62 in 14.4 seconds and a top speed of 101mph with a combined 50.4-55.4 mpg.

Verdict: If equipment is what you’re looking for, the base Citigo S model isn’t for you. The top of the range Monte Carlo specification starts from £11,890 and comes with air-conditioning and added smartphone connectivity but, if you want a cheap to run city car, the S will suit you just fine. With a £1,000 contribution towards the deposit from Skoda and having recently been announced best city car between £9,000 and £11,000 by Whatcar?, the Citigo is certainly worth consideration.

Kia Picanto

Price: From £9,895 and £135.55 a month on finance

Insurance: Insurance group 5

Safety: 3* (4* with the safety package)

Standard equipment: Air-conditioning, steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth® connectivity, 4-speaker audio system (2).

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine offers best combined mpg (61.4) without losing too much in terms of power or performance to the other choices.

Verdict: A good, solid choice for a brand-new car, the Picanto 2 is probably the pick of the range, despite starting at £11,250. It comes with a good range of equipment as standard, perfect for the 21st Century, and astonishing fuel economy, which might help claw back some of that extra cost. The low safety rating may be the only concern, especially if you’re not prepared to buy the additional safety package, when the Picanto already costs more than some competition on this list with 5*s.

Hyundai i10

Price: from 9,325 with a range of finance options (SE from £10,530)

Insurance: insurance group 1 or 2

Safety: 4*

Standard equipment: SE comes with DAB radio, Bluetooth® connectivity and steering wheel phone controls.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox offers 0-62 in 14.7 seconds, a top speed of 97mph and combined MPG of 50.4mpg, a choice of 1.2l petrol manual or automatic engines offered with SE model.

Verdict: The i10 isn’t a sporty car but the finance options are affordable for a range of budgets and the low insurance rating certainly makes it appealing. The SE is a good option in terms of affordability mixed with technology and the small nature of the i10 makes it a very good city car which is economical at low speeds.

Citroën C1

Price: from £10,095, £158 a month finance (Flair pack).

Insurance: Insurance group 7.

Safety: 4*

Standard equipment: ESP and very little else as standard with few additional options for the basic model.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic gearbox, convertible version available.

Verdict: Compared to some of its rivals, the C1 doesn’t show up very well. That lack of equipment creates a very bland interior and the lack of pulling power is a factor around town as well as on motorways. The Flair pack, which adds the sort of extras you want such as air-conditioning, rear-parking camera and the 7-inch touchscreen will set you back almost £2,000 more. However, the reasonable boot space for a city car is a bonus and it was named one of the cheapest cars for under 25s to insure.

Toyota Aygo

Price: from 9,495 and from £173.79 a month finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 6-8.

Safety: 3* (4* with safety pack).

Standard equipment: Hill-start assist, aux and USB connectivity, dual speaker system.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox is the only engine available on all models.

Verdict: Like the C1, the Aygo offers a very basic city-car – but upgrading it doesn’t cost as much as its rival. The x-play (the next model up from the x) starts at £11,675 and comes with a multimedia system including DAB radio, Bluetooth® and a 7-inch colour touchscreen as well as smartphone integration. You can’t drive too aggressively with such a small engine and a range of safety features makes you wonder why the NCAP rating is so low – which might dissuade some people as with the Kia. But, if you drive sensibly, the Aygo is a very smart city-car to buy brand-new, although the finance plan isn’t as affordable as some of its competitors.

Skoda Fabia

Price: from £12,535 with £105 a month finance.

Insurance: insurance group 1.

Safety: 5*

Standard equipment: stop-start, touchscreen display, Bluetooth® connectivity, USB port and four speaker audio system.

Specification: choice of 1.0l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox available.

Verdict: For a fair amount more than most of the others which have gone before it, the Fabia offers a very impressive array of standard equipment, perfect for the 21st Century driver. If you plan on driving more on motorways than in the city, fitting the slightly more powerful engine offers an extra 20mph and slashes 6 seconds from the 0-62 acceleration time as well as offering a max of 52.3mpg. With an affordable finance plan, low insurance costs and plenty of leg room for rear passengers, the Fabia makes for a very sensible choice of a brand-new car.

Volkswagen up!

Price: from £10,080 and from £109 a month finance.

Insurance: insurance group 1 or 2.

Safety: 5*

Standard equipment: DAB radio on all models but, for an extra £1,000, you get air-conditioning, alloy wheels and Bluetooth® connectivity.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox, 52mpg Verdict: The class leader for the past few years and continually evolving. The up! is the perfect city-car and a bit of fun to drive as well. If you’re looking for a cheap set of wheels, the base model is absolutely fine, but it might pay to pay that extra grand, and move into insurance group 2, if comfort and gadgets are your thing. The up! is a really popular choice and it’s quite easy to see why.

Dacia Sandero

Price: from £6,995, deposit of only £639 and from £99 a month on finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 3.

Safety: 4*

Standard equipment: Top of the range Comfort model gives touchscreen navigation, rear parking sensors, smartphone connectivity and cruise control – all for just under £9,000.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox as the basic, but choosing the next engine up gives a little bit more pulling power and speed. It also increases your fuel economy by almost 10mpg up to 53.3.

Verdict: By no means the sexiest car on this list, but certainly a solid all-round option. For the sheer affordability of the Sandero alone, it’s certainly worth considering it as an option. For just under £10,000, you get all the equipment you want and over 50 miles to the gallon fuel efficiency! It’s quietly unassuming as a vehicle and, while your friends might give you some stick at first, we reckon the amount of comfort and safety your Sandero can offer will win them around pretty quickly.

Ford Ka+

Price: from £11,300

Insurance: insurance group 1 and 2.

Safety: 3*

Standard equipment: DAB radio and start-stop technology.

Specification: 1.2l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox, 48.7mpg.

Verdict: The modern version of the popular small first car has a bigger engine size than many of its competitors – but there is a big but with this car. Take-up hasn’t been great so the Ka+ is actually being axed soon. If you can look past the lower safety rating and want a grunty car that’s cheap to insure, get in quick – you might be able to get a really good offer on one!

Fiat Panda

Price: from £10,080.

Insurance: Insurance group 3.

Safety: 0*

Standard equipment: MP3 player, ABS and ESC – £600 upgrade gets you air-conditioning and start-stop technology.

Specification: 1.2l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox is most economical with 50mpg but 0.9l TwinAir turbocharged engine is the most fun to drive.

Verdict: The Panda has been well-loved for many years, but that horrific safety rating cannot be ignored. The safety pack only costs an extra £450 but, if you’ve already spent the extra £600 on air-conditioning and some other equipment, is it worth it? The Panda is fun to drive and cheap to insure and run, but there are perhaps better options to consider.


Price: from £9,495 with flexible finance options.

Insurance: Insurance group 7.

Safety: 3*

Standard equipment: Stability control, hill-hold assist and Bluetooth® connectivity.

Specification: 4-cylinder, 16-valve petrol engine only gives 42.3mpg but you’ll go from 0-62 in just over 10 seconds. Verdict: One of the most surprising entrants on this list, but a decent punt if you’re looking for something affordable, (a large deposit can leave monthly payments of only £99). If you want a little bit more, the mid-range model costs £11,395 and comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, enhanced smartphone connectivity and reverse parking sensors. Don’t think the basic model isn’t worth it though – it’s slightly sportier than some of its small car competitors while offering a similar level of affordability and equipment.

Peugeot 108

Price: from £12,265 and £119 a month finance as well as other extras.

Insurance: Insurance group 8.

Safety: 4*

Standard equipment: Air-conditioning, 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth® connectivity, DAB radio and smartphone connectivity.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with a 5-speed gearbox, choice of manual or semi-automatic on 5 door for the same price, delivers between 51.6 and 54.8mpg

Verdict: Slightly more expensive base model than some of the competition but you certainly get value for money. The range of extras included as standard are incredibly impressive and the higher insurance rating is offset slightly by the economy of the engine. Spacious, modern, fun to drive – the 108 is certainly an attractive option with affordable finance options and other incentives.

Volkswagen Polo

Price: From £15,045 and from £155 a month finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 1 or 2.

Safety: 5*

Standard equipment: Touchscreen navigation and air-conditioning.

Specification: Choice of engines but either the 1.6l diesel or 1.0l petrol with 5-speed manual gearbox is a good option, the latter offering in excess of 50 miles to the gallon

Verdict: A solid, dependable, household name was always going to present an attractive option wasn’t it? More expensive than many cars on this list and doesn’t quite offer as much standard equipment as you’d want for that price, but affordable finance and servicing plans help to recover some of that extra cost. You’ll never go far wrong with a Polo but don’t just buy for the name – there are cheaper alternatives which offer similar results.

Nissan Micra

Price: from £12,880 with £191 a month finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 1 or 2.

Safety: 4* (5* with the safety pack)

Standard equipment: Surprisingly little given the starting price but for an extra £1,000 you can have Bluetooth® connectivity, lane departure warning and intelligent emergency braking.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox and turbocharged option offering 46.3mpg.

Verdict: A surprisingly disappointing option from another popular name. The extra price doesn’t offer as much as it should and the Micra certainly doesn’t appear that affordable with those high monthly payments, even with 0%APR, and the engine might leave you wanting for a bit more on some hills or with a fully laden car. Like the Polo, you might want to consider a slightly cheaper option which can offer a little bit more for your money, especially if you’re shopping with a smaller budget.

Smart ForFour

Price: TBA

Insurance: Insurance group 1 or 2.

Safety: 4*

Standard equipment: TBA

Specification: TBA Verdict: We’re still waiting on the release of the all-new, all-electric Smart ForFour but, based off of the pleasantly sporty city-driving experience the recently retired petrol ForFour offered, it’s worth looking into. The only drawback could be the charging availability but if you’re looking for an affordable petrol version, nearly new ForFour’s are available with equipment such as climate control, Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity, so, you could pick up an absolute bargain!

Ford Fiesta

Price: From £15,995 and £181.81 a month finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 1 or 2.

Safety: 5*

Standard Equipment: Touchscreen, USB and Aux.

Specification: 1.1l petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox with 48.7mpg.

Verdict: Another firm favourite with new drivers – but that price isn’t half steep. Aside from the touchscreen, there aren’t many gadgets as standard – smart-phone connectivity, NCAP safety pack and wireless charging are all expensive extras – but the safety and low insurance costs certainly make the Fiesta a good option. Nevertheless, you can probably find a nearly new Fiesta, with a bit more tech, for a lot cheaper. Otherwise, think carefully before choosing this over some of the other options.

Vauxhall Corsa

Price: From £11,735 with monthly finance of £205.85.

Insurance: Insurance group 1 or 2.

Safety: 4*

Standard equipment: Bluetooth® connectivity, 6 speakers, steering wheel mounted controls, handsfree calling, cruise control and heated windscreen.

Specification: 1.4l petrol engine comes with start/stop and 43.5 mpg as well as a choice of manual or automatic gearbox, (although automatic is only available with the least fuel-efficient engine).

Verdict: You get a lot included as standard with the Corsa and it’s packed full of fun – although it comes at a cost. As a fairly safe, cheap to insure and reasonably fuel-efficient small car, you certainly get a lot for your money, but those monthly payments do make the decision a lot more difficult than the no-brainer it should be.

Renault Clio

Price: From £14,295 with £209 a month finance

Insurance: Insurance group 8 (based off of the previous model)

Safety: 5* (based off of the previous model)

Standard equipment: DAB radio, 4.2-inch driver information display, cruise control, gear-shift indicator.

Specification: Predicted 1.0l or 1.3l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox, offering a predicted 52.3mpg.

Verdict: As with the ForFour, Renault is launching an all-new Clio in the latter half of 2019, with a range of goodies, sportiness and safety included as standard. However, the base price is very high and doesn’t include a spare tyre, as well as the finance plan being incredibly steep for a first brand-new car, partly because of the 25-month timeframe. A great household name to own, but probably not worth it when measured against the competition.

Seat Ibiza

Price: From £15,600 with £189 a month finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 3-11.

Safety: 5*

Standard equipment: DAB radio, smartphone and Bluetooth® connectivity, 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, air-conditioning.

Specification: 1.0l petrol engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox offers 47.1-51.4 mpg and 106mph.

Verdict: Another surprising name to make this list, the Ibiza presents a very strong case for itself with low insurance costs, a range of equipment as standard and Seat’s £1750 contribution towards your deposit – but it also has its drawbacks. The price and finance plan are less affordable than a lot of its competitors and you don’t get covered for as many miles. However, it does drive well and offers itself up as a very viable option.

Fiat 500

Price: From £12,165, from £118.40 a month finance.

Insurance: Insurance group 5.

Safety: 3*

Standard equipment: Engine start-stop, heated rear window, Aux and USB ports with the radio and audio controls on the steering wheel.

Specification:  1.2l petrol engine with 5-speed manual gearbox offering 47.1mpg.

Verdict: The original chic city-car. But does the 500 stand up to scrutiny? Yes, it’s made affordable by a good finance plan from Fiat, as well as their £2,200 contribution towards your deposit, but a lot of its competitors offer a bit more for a lot less and that safety rating should be considered as well. Yes, it’s sportier to drive than some of the other cars on this list but that bigger engine means more refuelling and a higher insurance premium. Is it worth it? Probably not.

Author Bio: Drew works for BookMyGarage writing blogs, website content and almost everything else in between. He works closely with ex-mechanics and subject matter experts. When he’s not helping you save money on running your car or making your driving life easier, he can be found either with his head in a book or with a golf club in his hands (usually looking for his ball in the woods)