It’s quite easy to find a cheap first car, but the total cost of getting on the road can really add up - the average yearly price for car insurance is around £470.
For younger or newer drivers, premiums can be much higher. And on top of that, most insurers will charge you interest if you want to pay monthly.
Not to worry, though - if you’re a new driver in the UK and you’re wondering what car to buy, we've gone through Google data to find the 10 most popular cars that are both cheap to buy and insure.
Insurers look at a few different things when working out the cost of a car insurance policy. But one of the most important factors is the vehicle’s insurance group.
A car’s engine size is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think about insurance groups. Speed and performance are important, but they’re not the only factors. Insurance groups are also based on the car’s value, safety features, and how easy it is to repair.
That’s why most of the low insurance group cars on our list have smaller engines, but not all 1 litre cars are in the lowest insurance groups.
Drumroll please! 🥁
We’re kicking off with the Skoda Fabia. This compact city car makes up for what it lacks in style by being one of the more reliable small cars around.
It’s easy to drive, and newer models come with handy features such as auto emergency braking.
If you’re buying new, you can get hold of an entry level model for around £15,000. But a used version from 2011 will only set you back around £2,700.
Next up is the Toyota Yaris. It’s one of the most expensive new cars on the list, starting at around £19,000. But if you don’t mind buying second hand, you’ll be looking at around £2,600 for a 2011 model.
The Yaris is very practical for its size - and Toyota is known for producing reliable cars.
But it’s not the most comfortable ride, especially at higher speeds. You’d also be forgiven for expecting a bit more equipment in standard models.
The ultimate city car - famous for its tiny proportions, iconic exterior, and importantly, having no back seats. So it’s not the best choice for those who carry passengers on a regular basis.
But it performs well around town, the fuel economy is great, and you don’t need to pay vehicle tax with a smart.
You can get hold of a 10 year old Smart for around £2150. But be sure to check the condition of the car you’re buying - some of the older models can be prone to engine problems.
The 2011 version of the KA is much better looking than older versions - it’s probably one of the most stylish superminis around! Sadly, its latest facelift is a bit more on the bland side. But both models have decent space for a smaller car, and it’s very affordable for first time drivers.
It’s not the most comfortable car though - especially on the motorway. And while there’s decent space for drivers and passengers, the KA only has four seats.
It’s no surprise the Vauxhall Corsa is the most popular car on our list. It’s a classic first car for new drivers - and one of the most well known small cars.
It’s also one of the safest superminis around. And, unlike most of its competitors, has enough space for a small family to use it as their main car.
You can get a new Corsa for around £17000. But be sure to negotiate - you can get great discounts in the Vauxhall showroom.
And if you’re on a budget, you can get a second hand 2011 Corsa for around £1870.
The Aygo, 107, and C1 are basically the same car. They all share an engine and look almost identical. They have similar prices too - with new models priced around £13,000, and used cars from 10 years ago coming in between £1500 and £1750.
They’re affordable first cars, and they’re great for driving around town. But the equipment on entry level models is quite basic, boot space is limited, and their 1 litre engines aren’t best suited for motorway driving.
Don’t let that put you off, though. They’re easy to drive, performing well in small spaces and start-stop traffic. And most importantly, they’re cheap to buy and insure.
Chevrolet have sadly stopped producing the Spark - so you can't buy a new one anymore. But if you’re looking for a decent used car, the 2011 Spark is great value, costing only £1200 on average.
The Spark is surprisingly spacious for a car of its size, and it’s one of the most economical cars for first time drivers.
But, as expected with smaller cars, it can be a bit underpowered and noisy at higher speeds.
The Fox isn’t known for its looks. It’s not bad to look at, but both the interior and exterior are very bland - and don’t expect any luxury features inside the car, either.
But it’s a decent car to drive, and actually performs quite well on the motorway.
Best of all, a used Fox from 2011 will only set you back around £1195.
But that’s if you can actually find one for sale. They were only in production for a few years, so there aren’t many on the market.
The Nissan Pixo offers great value for money. You can pick up a 2011 model for around £1175 - and most models are in low insurance groups.
Like most cars in the lowest insurance groups, a Pixo will serve you well in the city, but isn’t the best choice for motorway driving.
Taller passengers may struggle for legroom - even compared to other small cars, the Pixo doesn’t have much space.
And it’s a bit plain, too. So if you’re a new driver looking to turn heads on the road, you might want to consider something else.
In terms of price, the Fiat Panda is the clear winner here. New models come in at around £13,000. But if you don’t mind buying second-hand, you can get hold of a 2011 Panda for just over £1000.
It’s the most practical car on this list too, with loads of space for passengers and luggage. And it’s fun to drive too - both in town, and on the open road.
But the Panda isn’t as popular as some of its smaller, more expensive rivals. That’s probably because of its boxy exterior, which some have compared to Postman Pat’s van - not the most eye-catching!
But if you value savings over style, the Panda is our top pick.
(All prices as of August 2021.)
If you’re looking to keep your insurance costs down, there’s a few important things to know before you buy your first car.
Different versions of the same car can be in different insurance groups: a vehicle’s make and model aren’t the only things that determine its insurance group. It also depends on the style, trim, equipment level, engine size, and the amount of doors.
So there may be some versions of the cars on our list that aren’t in insurance group 1 or 2. But no worries - you can use our free insurance group checker to check the insurance group of any UK registered car.
Check for modifications: If you’re buying a used car, make sure that you ask if it has any modifications. Modified vehicles usually cost more to insure. And some insurers won’t cover modified vehicles at all. (Cuvva does insure cars with some modifications - here's the full list.)
Optional extras can add up: When you see an advert for a new car, the price shown is usually for the most basic model. But there are lots of extra features that you can add on for an extra cost.
On some cars, quite basic features (like electric windows) aren’t included as standard. You might even find that you have to pay extra to get your car in the colour that you want!
We combed through Google data to find the UK's 19 most-searched 'for sale' cars in insurance groups 1 and 2.
We then consulted our in-house insurance experts to put together a final top-10 ranking, which considered affordability, comfort and overall driving ability.
Here's a breakdown of the UK search data:
|BRAND||CAR||ANNUAL UK SEARCHES|
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