In Review

Best new first cars 2019: Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and more

Just passed your test and wondering what to drive? Here are our best buys

Finding the right car straight after passing your driving test can be a tricky business. Should you choose a hatchback or a city car? What about a crossover? Thankfully, there’s a good choice of vehicles on the market that are ideal for first-time drivers in terms of cost, safety and style. 

It’s also a good time to be buying. Gone are the days of entry-level cars with basic interiors and ugly styling. Most of today’s models come with alloy wheels, smartphone connectivity and hi-tech safety systems as standard 

Here’s our pick of the best cars for first-time buyers: 

Skoda Citigo/ Seat Mii/ Volkswagen Up!

One car offered in three different flavours.  

The Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up! use the same VW-developed production platform and engine line-up, making them nearly identical to each other. The only difference is in style and pricing.

All three use 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines, available in either 59bhp or 74bhp form. Entry-level models aren’t just “economical”, they also fall into the lowest insurance group, says CarBuyer

They’re safe, too, with five-star ratings all-round from Europe’s car safety programme Euro NCap.  

At £8,095, the Skoda Citigo is the cheapest model of the three. It’s followed by the £8,525 VW Up! and the Seat Mii £11,905. 

Ford Fiesta

There’s a good reason why the Ford Fiesta continues to be Britain’s best-selling car. The latest model is a “delight to drive” and boasts a larger cabin with better trim quality than its predecessor, says The Sunday Times. 

All models come with seven airbags and a key that can be programmed to limit the car’s top speed, says WhatCar?. The car even comes with lane keep assistance as standard. This automatically turns the wheel if the driver accidentally drifts into another lane. 

Entry-level Zetec models start at £15,670, which may seem expensive compared to the competition, but the motoring reviews site says that monthly leasing costs are “temptingly low” for buyers unable or unwilling to pay for the car in a single lump sum.

Vauxhall Corsa

Like the Fiesta, the Vauxhall Corsa is a common sight on British roads. It was the second best-selling car in the UK last year, one step below the Ford. 

At £11,735, the Corsa is cheaper than its key rival and a bit of a jack of all trades. Auto Express says it “isn’t particularly groundbreaking in any area”, but overall it’s “very good indeed and has enough quality to take on the class leaders”. 

Entry-level models come in the form of a 1.4-litre engine with 74bhp, and careful drivers should be able to achieve around 43mpg. The car also produces 128mg/km of emissions, putting it in one of the lower road tax bands. 

Volkswagen Polo 

“This is a more grown-up, spacious, well-mannered Polo than VW has made before”, says Autocar.  

The cabin is “unquestionably” built to a very high standard, with no sign of any wobbly fittings or creaking plastics, the motoring magazine says. It’s also generously equipped, and includes an 8.0in infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay as standard. 

The latest Polo also “dwarfs” the old model in “every dimension that counts”, providing ample head and legroom for occupants in the front and rear seats, says Parkers.  

Prices start at £14,240. But while it’s a little cheaper than the Fiesta, it isn’t as much fun to drive, the website says. 

Peugeot 208

Buyers looking for a car with stylish looks both inside and out should consider the Peugeot 208.  

“The 208 is a very comfortable car and comes with plenty of standard equipment”, including air conditioning and a touchscreen infotainment system, says CarBuyer. The system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meaning buyers can connect their smartphone to the car with ease. 

Bear in mind there’s a new 208 set to launch later this year. This means there’s a good chance buyers will be able to get their hands on a current-generation 208 for less than its listed price of £14,654.

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