Young drivers may hope for a first car that effortlessly blends supercar power and handling, as well as style and flair, all the latest tech, and costs nothing. Sadly the reality is that the best first cars are a more pedestrian affair. However that doesn't necessarily mean all hope is lost, as some small cars out there can actually be great fun to own and drive without breaking the bank.
For most young buyers the main priority will be a model that costs as little as possible to run, with cheap servicing and repair bills and great fuel economy.
Huge insurance premiums mean all but the smallest-engined cars are likely to be completely out of reach - forget about driving the latest super-fast hot hatch if you've only just passed your driving test.
The cars with the lowest insurance group ratings are a solid first car bet, and the great thing about these models is that they are often very economical as well, thanks to their small-capacity engines and light weight.
If you're buying a new car you can sometimes grab a cheap or free insurance deal, although do check the age restrictions. These deals allow new drivers to build up 12 months’ no claims discount, which will really help for the next year when you have to pay up.
For parents buying a first car for their children, having something very safe is likely to be a top priority. Have a look at the Euro NCAP crash test results of the car you're interested in to see how it compares to its rivals - and chck that stability control is included, as it's sometimes optional on cheaper cars. Bear in mind that all modern cars have a high standard of safety, though.
Boot space isn't likely to be needed too often, so a small three-door is going to be a solid choice most of the time. These little cars are fun to drive and look good too, so there's bound to be one you like.
Diesels may have attractive mpg figures, but be aware that they can be unreliable if they aren't driven long distances regualrly: for trips around town and to the shops, petrol is the better option. The latest petrols have great running costs and some are even free to tax.
Tight turning circles, responsive steering and good visibility make them easy to drive, which is useful when you've not got much experience with driving. You could also stick with the car you learned in, as it'll be easy to get used to.
Whatever you go for as your first car, most young drivers will demand a decent stereo, and some way to connect their phone. Other convenient features are handy - and of course, there are plenty who wouldn't be seen dead in a car that isn't stylish.
Everything you need to know about learning to drive, getting your driving licence and choosing your first car...