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

Recommended

Volkswagen up! review
Volkswagen up! - front
Volkswagen up

Volkswagen up! review

The VW up! has been at the top of the city car class for a decade, and it’s still going strong
20 Jul 2021
The best cars for £100 per month
£100 per month cars header
Best cars & vans

The best cars for £100 per month

If your finance budget maxes out at £100 per month, check out these affordable used car PCP deals
27 Nov 2020
City Car of the Year 2020: Volkswagen up!
Volkswagen up

City Car of the Year 2020: Volkswagen up!

The Volkswagen up! is the 2020 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Hyundai i10 and SEAT Mii Electric commended
13 Oct 2020

Most Popular

SEAT Ateca and Tarraco SUVs given small updates for 2021
SEAT Ateca
SEAT Ateca

SEAT Ateca and Tarraco SUVs given small updates for 2021

The SEAT Ateca and SEAT Tarraco get extra tech as standard and a range of cosmetic upgrades
3 Aug 2021
Exclusive: almost 18,000 major offences committed on UK motorways since 2016
Motorway
News

Exclusive: almost 18,000 major offences committed on UK motorways since 2016

Auto Express investigation shows extent of drivers and pedestrians breaking the law on motorways, with illegal stops accounting for more than a third …
4 Aug 2021
New Renault Kangoo 2021 review
Renault Kangoo Van - front
Renault Kangoo Van

New Renault Kangoo 2021 review

We get an early drive of the new Renault Kangoo van
3 Aug 2021