Lifestyle Guides

Best cars for young drivers under £1,000

Make sure you pick the right car when you're on a tight budget


Choosing the right car to buy is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a young driver. With so many factors to consider when deciding which car is right for you, it can be difficult to pick the best car for you from such a large and crowded market.

For most young people, buying a car is one of the first expensive purchases you’ll make and will likely be one you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It’s not just the initial cost of the car that you need to think about either – the expense of insurance, running costs, road tax and repairs should also be kept in mind when you’re looking to buy.

Car insurance is certainly one of the bigger cost considerations for new drivers and you’ll be recognised as a higher risk in your early years on the road. The best cars for young drivers are usually those in lower insurance groups and tend to be cars with smaller engines which have good safety and security features as well.

What are the best cars for new drivers?

Cazana is the largest used vehicle database in the UK. They used real-time data from over 600,000 cars listed on their website in the past six months to find which cars under £1,000 are the best (and worst) to buy if you’re a young driver.

According to Cazana, the best used cars for young drivers for less than £1,000 are as follows:

Top 10 used cars for under £1,000

Make Model Engine capacity Year Average price
Ford Focus 1596 2001 £699
Renault Clio 1149 2002 £680
Vauxhall Astra 1598 2001 £697
Vauxhall Corsa 1199 2001 £656
Ford Ka 1297 2003 £684
Ford Fiesta 1242 2003 £682
Ford Fiesta 1388 2002 £747
Peugeot 206 1360 2002 £672
Fiat Punto 1242 2002 £618
Vauxhall Corsa 1229 2004 £738

The most popular makes of vehicles for sale at less than £1,000 are, unsurprisingly, Vauxhalls and Fords, with six out of the top 10 cheapest being either Fords or Vauxhalls. Ford has the Fiesta, Focus and KA in the top 10, while Vauxhall have two versions of their popular Corsa model as well as the Astra in the list as well.

Cazana also found that the cheapest used vehicle for insurance purposes was the 2004 Vauxhall Corsa (1,199cc petrol model) which falls into the third band for insurance. The Corsa (1,229 cc model) was also the cheapest diesel car in terms of insurance, falling into the same band. With insurance being such a prominent factor in choosing a car as a young driver, Vauxhall Corsas are often a popular choice.

Based on reliability ratings from Which Warranty scores, the most reliable used car for under £1,000 was the 2003 Ford KA model (1,297cc engine) which sells at an average price of £684. Comparatively, the least reliable car on their list was the 2001 Vauxhall Astra (1,598cc) which was also slightly more expensive than the Ford KA on average.

Of course, when it comes to a car’s reliability there are a number of other components to think about. The age of the car, mileage, number of previous owners and service history are all important parts of the decision-making when trying to find the best deal.

If you’re a young driver buying your first car, you’ve probably not got much experience with car dealerships and what you should be looking out for. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take someone along with you so you don’t get ripped off!

If you’ve just passed your test and are considering buying your first car, check out our guide to buying your first car as a 17-year-old for more tips on what you need to know about buying the best cars for first time drivers.

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