Volkswagen up!/Skoda Citigo/SEAT Mii - best first cars for new drivers

The VW Group trio are cheap to run, spacious, have plenty of tech and are fun to drive

The Volkswagen up! claimed our City Car of the Year prize in 2019, 2018 and 2017, while the Skoda Citigo preceded it as champion in 2016. Sharing a platform with the SEAT Mii, all three VW Group cousins are fine choices for a new driver.

Although Volkswagen offers the up! as a petrol or all-electric variant, the Mii and Citigo are only available as pure electric city cars. There are, however, plenty of used examples of their petrol-powered siblings still available, either through private sale or in the main dealer network. You may find the sticker price a little higher at the dealer, but you do gain useful benefits such as warranty cover if any mechanical gremlins surface.

Key to the appeal is a low price, plus all cars sit in insurance group one or two. The only engine is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder - producing 64bhp - promising economy of up to 55.4mpg in the entry-level up! Service intervals stand at 10,000 miles on the Skoda and VW. 

Best city cars on sale

Yet despite being so cheap to buy and run, the three and five-door Citigo and up! don’t skimp on safety. All but entry-level models get ESP, there are six airbags and autobrake is an option. Interior quality also defies the budget price, while only basic cars do without electric front windows and air-con. You won’t have any problems carrying four adults, as front and rear seats are spacious, and the 251-litre boot size isn’t bad.

On the road, the compact dimensions make the Citigo, up! and Mii great to drive in town, while even the older 59bhp models perform reasonably well on motorways. There’s even the up! GTI if you need to fulfill your hot hatch desires, the added performance makes this model more expensive for young drivers to insure. All three cars get stylish versions geared to providing maximum street cred without the corresponding increase in insurance premiums, too.Top 10 best first cars for new drivers 2019. 

  1. Volkswagen up!/Skoda Citigo/SEAT Mii
  2. Kia Picanto
  3. Ford Fiesta
  4. SEAT Ibiza
  5. Hyundai i10
  6. Volkswagen Polo
  7. Toyota Aygo/Peugeot 108/Citroen C1
  8. Skoda Fabia
  9. Dacia Sandero
  10. Vauxhall Corsa


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