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Best First Time Buys

Best First Time Buys

By Swansway Motor Group 19-04-2019

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Motorist Journalist, John Swift takes a look at which cars make the best first time buys. He looks at which are the most appealing to teens, most reliable and also the most affordable.

Around 3 million 17 to 20 year olds hold a full licence but not all will yet have their own car with affordability being the main, biggest and most obvious hurdle.

It is not just financing the purchase itself but the cost of insurance and servicing too. With that in mind we have a list of suitable first time cars which trade experts say should be the easiest to budget for and, with a list of the most reliable, the least likely to leave their owners facing expensive breakdown repairs.

We have mentioned before the various ways that inexperienced drivers can reduce what might otherwise be prohibitive insurance premiums to a more manageable level, with further post-test training or a telematics-based policy being two of the most effective. As well as that there are some cars which have the looks likely to appeal to a teenager and with surprisingly low insurance ratings.


Good Looking First Cars

The SEAT Ibiza is one of the favourites here.

Red SEAT Ibiza

In its 2008 – 2017 guise, this sporty looking three or five door supermini was voted Best First Car by Parkers, the used car market guide, for two years running. It uses VW group mechanical parts, has strong styling with an edgier look on the later versions, good and robust interiors and armed with a budget of around £2,000 to £2,250 you should easily find a cared for example with less than 75,000 miles.

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Another favourite, and perhaps a surprise here, is the lovely MINI.

Taking cars built between 2001 and 2009, this is another with top ratings by the trade and has everything going for it. The classic styling is a triumph of the art and perhaps only the Fiat 500 can match it for cuteness and distinctive looks. To that you can add safe but entertaining handling – it is built by BMW, after all - a wonderful interior and a seemingly endless list of personalisation options.

Mini

Go for one of the lower-powered cars such as the 1.4 petrol engine in the One trim level and for around £3,500 you can pick up routinely serviced 60,000 to 70,000 mile versions. At a stretch you might even find a convertible model for this budget.

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We have mentioned the Fiat 500 and this too must fall into the Best First Time Buys list. Because they are so nice they hold their value better than most small cars but for around £2,000 you can get one of the Pop or Lounge trim level cars, with insurance up to Group 10 which is the lower end of the spectrum helping your money go further. For this budget you will be getting a high mileage car, edging towards six figures, but they are well engineered and the diesels in particular will go forever.

Fiat 500

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Affordable First Time Cars

But not everyone can afford a couple of thousand pounds and what happens if you can’t even get hold of £1,000? Well, the trade still caters for this end of the market and there are a few cars which make good first timers and because they were sold in such vast numbers, are now at the bottom end of the price ladder.

The first is the Ford Fiesta.

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Even a brief trawl through the big online portals will give you several cars, around ten years old and with less than 100,000 miles under their wheels, MOTd and with some service history. If you avoid the sporty versions, a 2002 – 2008 Fiesta with either a 1.2 litre petrol engine or the 1.4 diesel will have reasonable insurance costs and should give you reliable motoring for less than £1,000.


Vauxhall’s version of this, the Corsa, is another. With a ceiling of £1,000 there are plenty of 10 to 12 year old cars with 75,000 miles or so under their wheels. As with the Ford, this money should get you a car with a service history, an MOT and affordable insurance.

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Don’t restrict your searches to the mainstream makes though. As you can read below, most Japanese brands have enviable reputations for reliability and something a bit left field, say a Suzuki Alto or Toyota Corolla, are well worth consideration.


Most reliable cars for first time buyers 

This brings us to the cars which keep going the longest, are the cheapest to look after mechanically and fall into the lowest insurance categories making them suitable as first cars.

Analysing 50,000 of its live policies, warranty provider Warranty Direct has come up with an index of the most reliable second hand cars looking at the frequency of faults, the age, mileage and cost of repairs before scoring them.

Japanese vehicles are indeed renowned of their reliability and they take four of the top 10 cars here. Of this ten most dependable cars, 80% also feature in low insurance groups with just the Honda Jazz not qualifying.

Taking the top spot is the Toyota iQ with average time off the roads for repairs being just one hour. Repair costs averaged at around £223 with the low number of claims concerning mainly issues with engines.

Toyota iQ


Following the iQ is the Vauxhall Agila which has lower average repair costs of just £115. However, the car missed out on the first place position due to longer repair times and a high number of axle and suspension problems which accounts for 75% of its claims.

In third place, the Hyundai Getz experienced more complex issues with its engines and gearboxes and its average repair time is significantly higher than the Toyota IQ’s and the Vauxhall Agila’s, averaging more than four hours.


The Honda Jazz finds itself in the top 10 twice, with its older model drifting towards the bottom of the table. Average repair costs for models from 2008 onwards are at the high end at £371 due to a quarter of claims being linked to expensive electrical issues.

Honda Jazz first car

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Although the Suzuki Alto finds itself in the eighth position, it has the cheapest average repair costs in the top ten at £95 but a high proportion of claims for axle and suspension issues (78%) slipped it down the ranking towards the lower end of the table.


Warranty Direct Top Ten most reliable first time cars in 2019

1. Toyota iQ (08- )

2. Vauxhall Agila (08 -)

3. Hyundai Getz (02 - 09)

4. Honda Jazz (08-)

5. Hyundai i10 (08-)

6. Citroen C1 (05-)

7. Hyundai i20 (09-)

8. Suzuki Alto (09-)

9. Ford Ka (08-)

10. Honda Jazz (01-08)


 

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