Top 10 best learner driver cars 2022
Easy to drive, affordable, and inexpensive to run, these are our top 10 used cars to learn in.
Learning to drive is one of the most exciting yet potentially nerve-racking things that you will ever do. So, one of the best ways to avoid any undue stress is to learn in a car that’s cheap to insure, easy to drive and park, and affordable to buy and run.
Starting your motoring journey in an affordable car also means that any mishaps, dents, or prangs won’t be quite as upsetting or expensive. What’s more, when you do pass your test, you will then have the choice of either keeping it or upgrading to a brand new car that you’ll have the experience and confidence to drive safely and with care.
Here we've listed 10 of the best used cars for learner drivers. They are all small enough to be manoeuvrable and easy to drive, can be found at reasonable prices, and, perhaps most importantly, sit in lower insurance groups.
They also have small, efficient petrol, diesel or hybrid engines, so while they may not be the fastest accelerating cars, they make up for this by offering low running costs. Most petrol models on the list will easily manage 40-50mpg, while the all-electric Renault ZOE is free to tax and drive into low emissions zones, such as those found in London and Oxford.
Top 10 best cars for learner drivers 2022
- Volkswagen up!/SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo
- Ford Fiesta (Mk7)
- Skoda Fabia (Mk3)
- Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 108
- Kia Picanto (Mk3)
- Renault ZOE
- Vauxhall Corsa (Mk4)
- Citroen Nemo Multispace/Fiat Qubo/Peugeot Bipper Tepee
- Toyota Yaris Hybrid (Mk3)
- Fiat 500 (2007-2021)
1. Volkswagen up!/Skoda Citigo/SEAT Mii
As a three-time winner of the City Car of the Year title at the Auto Express Awards, it’s no secret that we are very fond of the Volkswagen up!, and its sister cars, the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, are equally impressive. In fact, not only is this whole family of compact cars easy to manoeuvre and park, but they’re comfortable and fun to drive, too.
While the up! is the only model you can still buy brand new, all three versions are plentiful on the used market at reasonable prices. Although there are also electric versions available, these command much higher prices so we recommend sticking with the perfectly capable 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol. This engine should easily deliver over 50mpg, and it’s even a fairly low polluter with CO2 emissions of 117g/km.
The best news, though, is that there is at least one version of the up!, Citigo, and Mii residing in the lowest insurance group.
2. Ford Fiesta (Mk7)
Whether you’ve been driving for days, weeks, or years, the Ford Fiesta has proven itself as a great all-rounder for generations – so much so that it often tops the UK car sales charts. It’s fun to drive, practical for its size, reliable, and reasonably priced.
Our choice here is the Mk7 Fiesta which was produced from 2008-2018, as these cars are currently sitting in the sweet spot of low prices and modern features. There’s also plenty of variety on offer with multiple trim levels and a range of petrol and diesel engines readily available nationwide.
Find a Fiesta Mk7 in Zetec trim and you will get a fair helping of creature comforts; such as electric front windows, remote central locking, a heated windscreen, air-conditioning and alloy wheels.
3. Skoda Fabia (Mk3)
The Skoda Fabia is another supermini that offers refinement, practicality and reliability – thanks to its proven underpinnings that are shared with the Volkswagen Polo. The reason why the Fabia makes this list over the VW, though, is that it tends to sell for a lower price, making it great value.
There are three petrol and one diesel engine to choose from, and if you aren’t too fussed about power, the non-turbocharged 1.0 mpi petrol sits in insurance group one with a number of trim levels. If you’re not pushing it too hard, another upside of this engine is fuel economy of more than 55mpg.
On the subject of trim levels, the basic ‘S’ spec is a little sparse when it comes to equipment, so we’d recommend opting for at least ‘SE Drive’ as this includes some useful additions such as front fog lights and rear parking sensors.
4. Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 108
Although they come from different manufacturers, the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, and Peugeot 108 are all pretty much the same car – with the only noticeable difference being their looks. While the model you choose will mostly be down to price and personal tastes, all three make a great choice for a learner due to their sheer simplicity.
Compact, equipped with the essentials, and very cheap to run – thanks to a frugal 1.0-litre engine that should easily return over 55mpg – there’s little to complain about if all you need is a dependable, no-frills set of wheels.
All three models are reasonably safe, but be sure to shop around as some used examples will have been fitted with optional active safety features for added peace of mind.
5. Kia Picanto (Mk3)
The Picanto’s basic trim levels are some of the easiest to understand, too. If you exclude the special editions, you simply have the choice of levels 1, 2, or 3 – the higher the number, the higher the spec.
The entry-level Picanto 1 trim features electric front windows, remote central locking, a two-speaker stereo system and steel wheels. We’d recommend opting for the 2, though, as this brings 14-inch alloys, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, air-con, powered rear windows, Bluetooth and a four-speaker audio set-up.
6. Renault ZOE
Many people believe that electric cars are the future, so if you want to get a head start in EV motoring, the Renault ZOE could be the perfect option.
Earlier models can now be found second-hand for less than £8,000. One thing to be careful of, though, is that a number of these earlier ZOEs have a leased battery back, which means you will have to pay an additional monthly cost.
The smaller 22kWh ZOEs are the most common at the lower end of the pricing spectrum. These cars possess a single 89bhp motor and should be good for a driving range of around 100 miles realistically. If you’re planning on making frequent long journeys then the ZOE might not be the choice for you, but for shorter urban trips it could be a solid buy – especially when you consider the savings on Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) and low-emissions zones.
7. Vauxhall Corsa (Mk4)
A firm favourite of driving schools across the country, the Vauxhall Corsa is arguably the fiercest rival of the Ford Fiesta. As a result, the Mk4 Corsa that was built between 2014 and 2020 offers a similar level of quality and practicality, and while not quite as sharp as the Ford, it’s still good to drive.
Standard equipment is pretty generous, too, and with the entry-level ‘Life’ trim being surprisingly rare, the odds are that you will find a better-equipped Corsa that’s well within your budget. The Excite trim is particularly plush with air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Also, just like the Fiesta, there are a range of both petrol and diesel engines to choose from. The vast majority find themselves in single-digit insurance groups but, sadly, the better-performing turbocharged petrol units are best avoided, as these can push up the premiums by a considerable amount.
8. Citroen Nemo Multispace/Peugeot Bipper Tepee/Fiat Qubo
If you are a learner who needs a car that’s more family-friendly than a supermini or a city car, then the Citroen Nemo Multispace, Peugeot Bipper Tepee, and Fiat Qubo are three van-based sister MPVs that shouldn’t break the bank.
What’s better is that these models are based on the Fiat Punto, which means that they are still relatively compact and shouldn’t be too intimidating to drive or park – not to mention cheap to run. With sliding rear doors and over 350-litres of boot space they’re also hugely practical.
The only real downside to these cars is that they are far from the last word in style or performance. However, with good examples to be found for under £5,000 and low insurance on both the petrol and diesel models, there are few other ways to get so much space at such a low price.
9. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (Mk3)
If you want to keep your carbon footprint low but don’t wish to go fully-electric, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid could prove to be the perfect half-way point.
Although there are also conventionally-fuelled versions of the Mk3, we’ve chosen the hybrid for this list as earlier examples can now be found for around £7,500 and should return well over 55mpg while emitting less than 85g/km of CO2.
There are several different types of hybrid car, with the Yaris being a full-hybrid, that’s referred to as ‘self-charging’ by Toyota. It never needs plugging in, so all you need to worry about is filling it with petrol – something you shouldn’t need to do very often. Regenerative braking automatically puts energy back into the battery as you drive around, so it’s especially effective in urban traffic. Toyota’s hybrid engines are also renowned for their reliability, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the Yaris letting you down.
10. Fiat 500
If you like your car to have a bit of character, there are few better options than the Fiat 500. It’s small, efficient, and should put a smile on your face thanks to its cute and retro styling.
The level of customisation offered when the 500 was new was pretty extensive, so there are an array of different specifications available depending on your personal requirements and tastes. We recommend opting for a post-2016 500 if your budget allows, as these cars were subject to mechanical improvements and equipment upgrades.
This generation of 500 was a huge seller for Fiat, so used examples can be found in abundance – shopping around for a bargain shouldn’t be too difficult, and you can walk away from any examples with issues like kerbed wheels or a patchy service history.
Looking to buy brand new instead? Check out our list of the best first cars for new drivers…