Which is the best first car for a new driver?

"Everyone remembers their first car."

Citreon Saxo

One of the biggest choices that a new driver has to make these days is which car to choose as your first car. 

Many new TorqueCars members ask us what car is the best one to start with.

Most people in the UK start driving at the age of 17 unfortunately at this age the cost of car insurance can be somewhat prohibitive. 

Many insurance companies will also restrict the power and performance of the car you wish to insure by loading the premium or declining to cover higher powered cars. 

They do this, because after reviewing their statistics most young drivers in powerful cars have some type of accident or motor claim.

Choosing a first car can be a daunting task - get it right and within a few years you can afford a much better car. Get it wrong and you'll be stuck with a slow uncool car.

Generally speaking the first car should be one that is cheap to insure and easy to drive. Most first cars, regarded as shopping cars, have engine sizes of less than 1 litre. The advantage of having a car with a shorter wheelbase and small size is that you can still enjoy the cars performance and handling. 

Another consideration for a first car is the running costs. The two largest costs associated with motoring are depreciation, fuel prices and maintenance costs. Buying a car native to your country will generally mean that the maintenance costs are lower than those of imported models. Additionally the car will depreciate at a lower rate than imported models.

Here are two example drivers to demonstrate the cake now or cake later philosophy:-

Both drivers are 17 years old and make very different decisions as to the first car they can drive. One uses a "have my cake now philosophy" whereas the other has "a cake later outlook."

(Cake Now) Driver one buys a car for £7000,  this is on finance (£225 per month for 3 years) so he will be paying interest to the bank. He is also required to have comprehensive car insurance which cost him £2300. 

The car he has selected is a mid powered family car, unfortunately it is more desirable to thieves and he is more likely to have a road traffic accidents in the first year of ownership so let's assume he didn't earn his no claims bonus after the first year.

This would have got him a 30 per cent discount for the second years insurance. In the second year this driver continues with the same car. This year his car insurance rises to £2500 pounds because he has not learned his 30 per cent no claims discounts and his policy has been loaded by a further 10 per cent because of the claim he made.(His car has depreciated and its current market value is now worth just £4000 pounds and he is 1 year older which does minimise the price rise in his insurance.)

(Cake Later) Driver two by choosing a more modest car spends just 300 pounds on the Car his insurance is £950 pounds (it is only a small engined car and he only requires basic insurance cover). 

The car he has chosen is small and therefore statistically he is not involved in accidents or claiming in that first year and he earns his 30 per cent no claims discount. In the second year his insurance has come down to £631. 

In the meantime he has been saving his money whereas driver one was paying out for the bank loan he obtained to get his car. After three years driver two has a bank balance of £8100 and a total of 50 per cent no claims bonus. He can no insure a much faster car for half the price it would normally cost. Driver one is jealous that the car he now has and just can't afford to upgrade.

These two examples are somewhat extreme but they do highlight one very basic important principle in choosing a first car. Start off small, save your money, build up some no claims bonus, then when you are older, insurance is cheaper, and you can get the car of your dreams without breaking the bank and without wasting money on bank loans, high running costs, and expensive insurance policies. TorqueCars members will also enjoy having more money to spend on car modifications!

When choosing a car for insurance purposes, the insurers take the following into account when deciding how much to charge.

The cost to repair a vehicle (cars which have cheaper parts  and lower repair costs are given a lower rating than equivalent cars with more expensive parts.)

The age of a car (most insurers will offer a discount directly proportional to the age of a car so an older car is cheaper to insure than a newer model with all other factors remaining equal) so look at a low mileage older car rather than a high mileage new car.

The performance and handling of the car. Faster cars are theft targets. Cars which are notoriously difficult in certain whether terrain such as rear wheel drive cars or those with very powerful engines attract much higher ratings.

The safety rating of the car (insurers have to compensate for injuries to pedestrians and occupants of the car, therefore if the car is saved the cost of injury claims is reduced and the insurers are able to take this into account when deciding on a premium)

The area in which you live and work. Premiums in rural areas tend to be much lower than in busy urban areas. Insurers are asking for a work address now to avoid possible loopholes for urban workers who live in rural areas.

 Driver experience, age, sex and reputation. Avoid getting any endorsements or fines on your licence. Stay claim free and take an IAM advanced driving test or driving standards courses such as the Pass Plus Scheme. (A sex change operation is not sufficient to warrant a discount - this question has been asked before and refused by the insurer concerned!)

Why not join our forum and get some ideas and suggestions from our worldwide members as to  which car you should start with. Click here to join.

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