When you’re a new driver, picking the right car for your needs and budget is crucial. You want to stay safe on the road, but it’s also important to have a car that suits your lifestyle and personality.
There are plenty of used and new cars on the market – sorting through the options can be overwhelming if you’re a first time car owner. Check out the tips below for buying your first car and then have a look at our top ten picks for the best cars for new drivers to get started.
What to look for in a first car
It’s important to do your research before buying any car, but when you’re a new driver, getting a car that’s going to be reliable and safe on the road is essential. Keep the following factors in mind when browsing your options.
Getting a car with the maximum 5-star safety ratings is a no-brainer. If buying a new car, look for features like stability control, rear parking sensors and a reverse camera. Extra features like blind spot monitoring and emergency braking are a bonus. For used cars, take a look at ANCAP’s backdated ratings to give you an idea of the safety levels.
First car buyers are usually on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good deal. Obviously, used cars will be more affordable, but it pays to have the car professionally inspected before purchasing it. Weigh up the pros and cons of new vs used cars to see which makes more sense for you.
Cost of ownership
Don’t just factor in the purchase price. Also think about how much it will cost to maintain and service the car over time. Japanese cars tend to cost less to service over their lifetime than European counterparts. Don’t forget to factor in fuel type and economy too.
Smaller cars are popular with new drivers for their maneuverability and fuel efficiency. However, larger sedans and small SUVs can make great cars for young people, depending on their lifestyle and personal preferences. It’s worth test driving cars of various sizes to help them discover what feels right.
Features often come down to personal preference and budget. Buying new will give you access to many more features, but with a significantly heftier price tag. Things like bluetooth connection, automatic lights and a good audio system are popular with young drivers.
Best cars for new drivers
The Mazda 2 is one of the top recommendations for new drivers because of its maneuverability, reliability and excellent safety ratings. Driving the Mazda 2 in Perth is a breeze with Smart City Brake Support, Pedestrian Detection, Lane-keep Assist System and Traffic Sign Recognition. Buying new will get you access to the best technologies, but buying a used Mazda 2 from a dealership can also be great value for money.
The Suzuki Swift is a zippy little hatchback that performs well for city driving. Used Swifts can be picked up pretty affordably, but may not have the range of features that new models offer, such as emergency braking and lane departure warning. Young drivers will enjoy the voice recognition and hands-free technologies.
The Hyundai i30 comes in both hatchback and sedan versions, both great for first time drivers. It has won several prizes in small car categories. Buying the smallest i30 hatchback brand new will set you back $25,000 to $35,000, but there are usually lots of choices in the used market too.
The VW Golf is a zippy car which is great for first time drivers who need something reliable for commuting to and from school or work. The newest versions feature multi-function camera and radar technology to improve safety on the road and make parking easier.
Dubbed the ‘small hot hatch,’ the Ford Fiesta has long been a standard choice for new drivers who are on a budget. It’s zippy and smooth, making it good for city driving and parking. If you’re worried about safety with little cars, take a look at the Fiesta’s slightly bigger cousin the Ford Focus.
Another popular runabout with 5-star ANCAP safety rating. It’s a little more expensive than its cousin the Kia Rio, but boasts more room and feature options. Both sedan and hatchback options are available.
If you’re looking for a mid-sized sedan, the Toyota Camry is a popular choice. New versions have good boot space and impressive touchscreen technology. Safety features include Blind Spot Monitoring, Dynamic Cruise Control and Lane Trace Assist.
Young drivers who lead active and social lifestyles might prefer driving a small SUV like the Mazda CX-3. It’s stylish, reliable and kitted out with advanced connectivity technologies. The safety ratings are fantastic and you’ll get a good balance between power and fuel efficiency.
A compact SUV with a single cylinder petrol engine – good for everyday driving. What it lacks in engine power it makes up in fuel efficiency. It’s got a 5-star safety rating and newer models feature touchscreen technology. With the rear seats folded down, there’s pretty impressive storage capacity.
The Qashqai – previously known as the Nissan Dualis – is another compact SUV that’s popular with new drivers. It’s got a four-cylinder petrol engine, a range of advanced safety features and enough room for five passengers and luggage.
Making the choice that’s right for you
Getting your first car can be really exciting and empowering. It’s worth taking your time to weigh up the options. Do your research, seek advice and test drive a number of models before you settle on something. Good luck and happy car hunting!