Best cars for teenagers

Best cars for teenagers 3
 
Once they've passed their driving test, many teenagers will be calling on their parents to help fund their first car. With the cost of insurance alone averaging £2500 for young people aged 17-20 (and that applies to girls, too, following last year's EU Gender Directive), equipping your teen with a car can be an expensive exercise, but there are ways of keeping costs down.  
 
As far as insurance is concerned, it isn't just the driver's age and postcode which affect premiums – it also depends on the car's insurance group. Each model of car is assigned to one of 50 groups, according to the car's value, engine power, security features and cost to repair or replace damaged parts. 
 
The lower a car's insurance group, the cheaper it will be to insure. 
 
Generally speaking, cars with smaller engines will be cheaper to insure. Those with technology which could help prevent an accident in the first place (as fitted on an increasing number of new cars) will also enjoy lower premiums. 
 
There are other running costs to consider, too, including road tax and fuel. Meanwhile, as a parent you'll be concerned about what sort of protection your child's car will offer if they're involved in an accident. 
 
Worry not. Our choice of the best cars for teenagers – new and used - will help make your child's motoring affordable and worry-free, while giving the driver plenty to smile about, too. 
 
Euro NCAP crash tests
Most of the models below were crash tested by Euro NCAP before its tests were revised in 2009; before this, results comprised individual star ratings for adult, child and pedestrian protection. The Volkswagen Up is the only car below which was tested after the 2009 revisions, which give an overall star rating plus percentage scores for individual areas including adult and pedestrian protection. 
 
The difference between the tests made before and after the 2009 revisions is small, and is detailed on the Euro NCAP website. 
 
All Euro NCAP star ratings are out of a maximum of five. 
 
 

Best new cars for teenagers

 
Fiat 500
 
Fiat 500 1.2 Pop 3dr
List price: £9960
Insurance group: 5
Road tax: First year free, £30 thereafter
Euro NCAP: (Pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults, two for pedestrians 
 
The modern-day Fiat 500 has sold in its millions since it was launched in 2007, thanks to its winning combination of retro looks and affordable running costs. The cheap bills are helped by the 500’s insurance rating, which puts this 1.2 Pop model in group 5. Standard equipment is a bit basic, but optional extras aren’t too pricey.  With the 500 being relatively small and light, the 1.2 petrol engine doesn't have to work too hard to get the car going, which helps give the 500 an official fuel economy of 58.9mpg, with CO2 emissions a respectable 113g/km. 
 
 
Ford Fiesta
 
Ford Ka 1.2 Zetec 3dr
List price: £10,475
Insurance group: 3
Road tax: First year free, £30 thereafter
Fuel economy: 57.7mpg
Euro NCAP: (Pre-2009 test) Four stars for adults, two for pedestrians 
 
The Ford Ka uses the same chassis as the Fiat 500, but tweaks to the suspension and steering have made the Ford the better car to drive: it’s nimble through the corners, with responsive and accurate steering. Our favourite trim, Zetec, brings air conditioning and larger alloy wheels as standard, but this model of Ka is still only in group three for insurance. It'll be cheap to run, too; the 1.2 manages 57.7mpg and emits 115g/km CO2. 
 
 
Volkswagen Up
 
Volkswagen Up High Up 1.0 75 3dr
List price: £10,900
Insurance group: 2
Road tax: First year free, £20 thereafter 
Fuel economy: 60.1mpg
Euro NCAP: Five stars, with 89% for adult protection and 46% for pedestrians
 
The Volkswagen Up is What Car?'s 2013 Car of The Year, and for good reason. No matter which trim you go for, the Up’s insurance rating never exceeds group two, with the majority sitting in group one. The High Up model comes with portable sat-nav, heated seats, Bluetooth, air-con and allow wheels, making it fantastic value. Volkswagen claims this model of Up should manage 60.1mpg with CO2 emissions of just 106g/km, so running costs should be low, too.
 
 
Mini First
 
Mini 1.6 First hatchback 3dr
List price: £11,870
Insurance group: 8
Road tax: First year free, £105 PA thereafter
Fuel economy: 52.3mpg
Euro NCAP: (Pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults, two for pedestrians (test was for Cooper model but results apply to First)
 
The Mini's looks and driving characteristics make it particularly popular with young drivers, but its desirability can make it expensive to insure. Mini's response is the entry-level First model. It doesn’t come with much kit – even air-con will cost you extra – but it's considerably cheaper than the other models, and sits in group 8 for its insurance, while the rest of the range starts at group 13. It can return 52.3mpg and emits 127g/km CO2. 
 
 
Vauxhall Corsa
 
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2i VVT Limited Edition AC 3dr
List price: £14,650
Insurance group: 7
Road tax: First year free, £105 thereafter
Fuel economy: 51.4mpg
Euro NCAP: (Pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults and three for pedestrians 
 
The Vauxhall Corsa line-up is vast, ranging from the frugal 1.0-litre petrol model to the turbocharged, range-topping VXR version. The latter may be the envy of many a teenager but its group 32 insurance will prove prohibitive for most young drivers. However, Vauxhall's Limited Edition Corsa has the looks of the VXR without the associated running costs. So, it adds 17-inch black alloy wheels, sports suspension and tinted windows, but can be teamed with Vauxhall’s 1.2-litre petrol that manages 51.4mpg and emits 129g/km CO2. Best of all – and despite the added desirability – the Limited Edition gets a low group 7 insurance rating.
 
 

Best used cars for teenagers

 
Citroen C2
 
Citroen C2 1.1 VTR 3dr
Typical price: £4000 for ‘09/09 plate with 50,000 miles
Insurance group: 3
Road tax: £125 
Fuel economy: 48.7mpg
Euro NCAP rating for plate of car recommended here: (Pre-2009 test) Four stars for adults and two for pedestrians 
 
In 2009, Citroen made it possible to specify its lowest-powered C2, the 1.1 petrol, with the brand's sporty VTR trim. That's good news for those on a budget, as standard VTR equipment includes air-con, electric windows and mirrors, and a CD player. Meanwhile, fuel costs and road tax are pretty good too. Thanks to that tiny engine, this C2 sits way down in group three for its insurance, meaning even those just starting out should be able to find a relatively affordable insurance premium. 
 
 
Peugeot 207
 
Peugeot 207 1.4  Sport 3dr
Typical price: £4700 for ‘08/08 plate with 60,000 miles
Insurance group: 6
Road tax: £140 
Fuel economy: 44.8mpg
Euro NCAP rating for plate of car recommended here: (Pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults, three for pedestrians 
 
Peugeot's famous GTI models command insurance premiums out of the reach of most young drivers. However, its Sport trim gives some of the GTI's looks, without the cost, and that's what you get with this 207 hatchback (which has since been replaced with the new 208). On the outside you get alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers, while inside there's air-con, a CD player and sportier-looking seats. Peugeot’s 1.4-litre petrol engine claims to do almost 45mpg in this car, while road tax is a modest £140. 
 
 
Renault Clio
 
Renault Clio 1.2 TomTom 3dr
Typical price: £5400 for ‘09/09 plate with 50,000 miles
Insurance group: 7 
Road tax: £125 
Fuel economy: 47.9mpg
Euro NCAP rating for plate of car recommended here: (Pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults, one for pedestrians
 
The Clio has always been seen as a chic supermini and the MkIII car, produced between 2005 and 2012, is no exception; the three-door version is particularly smart-looking. In 2009 the Clio was revised to include more equipment as standard, and, as the name suggests, this model comes with TomTom sat-nav as well as alloy wheels and air-con. It isn't just the amount of equipment that’s impressive; the 1.2-litre petrol engine can deliver almost 48mpg, and with CO2 emissions of 139g/km, road tax is an affordable £125 per year, too. 
 
 
Ford Fiesta 
 
Ford Fiesta 1.25 82 Zetec 3dr
Typical price: £5900 for ‘08/58 plate with 40,000 miles
Insurance group: 6
Road tax: £125 
Official fuel economy: 49.6mpg
Euro NCAP rating for plate of car recommended here: (Pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults, three for pedestrians 
 
The Ford Fiesta's keen responses and agility make it good fun to drive, but it's also cheap to run and to insure. You don't have to be limited to the lower-spec models, either. Zetec cars of this age have alloy wheels and air-con as standard but sit only in insurance group 6, which means young drivers can afford to enjoy these features, too. This generation of Fiesta (Mk6) has been on sale since 2008 (albeit with a couple of facelifts in more recent years), which means there are plenty of good-quality, reasonable-mileage cars to choose from, keeping price tags low. 
 
 
Seat Ibiza
 
Seat Ibiza 1.2 S (A/C) 3dr
Typical price: £6000 for '09/59 with 40,000 miles
Insurance group: 3
Road tax: £125
Fuel economy:
Euro NCAP rating for plate of car recommend here: (pre-2009 test) Five stars for adults, three for pedestrians
 
Seat's Ibiza manages to combine sporty looks with affordability, especially in the case of this S (A/C) model, which adds air-con as standard. You also get a CD player and aux input for your music, and there's enough room inside for four adults to sit in comfort. Prices for this age of Ibiza, in entry-level trim, are low – even though this is still the current-generation car (albeit before a hefty facelift last year) – and so are insurance premiums, thanks to the car's group 3 rating.  This Ibiza manages 47.9mpg, too, so it won't cost too much to fuel, either.