Best Cars For 17 Year Olds

9 minutes Published: 12/03/2020
Alasdair Cherry

You’ve only gone and done it. After passing your driving test with flying colours, the L-plates are well and truly a thing of the past. As a reward, you must be looking to treat yourself to a new ‘whip’ so you can really enjoy your freedom on the roads.

Choosing a car as a younger driver can be particularly difficult as there's a lot of factors to take into consideration. It’s not just a case of buying the car and everything’s hunky-dory. You’ve got to weigh up car insurance costs, fuel economy and most importantly, if it’s suitable for your needs.

Owning your first car is an iconic moment in your life and everyone remembers the love-hate relationship they endure with their first car. However, we want to ensure that there’s a lot more to love than hate about your car as we provide you with a detailed list of the best cars for 17-year olds!

For more cars that would suit a 17-year old, check out our best first cars or best city cars list. If you’re on a tight budget, have a look at our cheapest cars list.

1. Skoda Citigo Hatchback

RRP: £8,440 - £11,705
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 1.0
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 95 - 105g/km

Pros

  • Cheap to lease and affordable insurance costs. 

  • Cheap running costs. 

Cons

  • Base trims lacking tech. 

  • Bumpy ride. 

The Skoda Citigo (same car as the Volkswagen Up! and Seat Mii) is an exceptional city car that offers incredible value for money. Available in three or five-door form, the Citigo comes in a choice of two engines that have more than enough guile to give four of your friends a comfortable lift home from school.

The Citigo’s agile handling and smooth suspension make it one of the best, if not the best, handling city car on the market. For its budget-friendly price, the Skoda Citigo has a pretty stylish interior. The combination of light and dark plastics bring some life to the cabin, while its built-in infotainment system is user-friendly and easy to navigate. 

Space is plentiful in both front and back, and the driver's seat comes with height-adjustable capabilities. The boot is also generous enough to cram all your friends’ kit bags in the boot while you give them a lift to the gym. You’ll be saving a few bob with your frugal engine as insurance premiums are very reasonable, whichever Citigo you opt for. 

Our Rating:

2. Seat Ibiza

RRP: £12,915 - £21,385 | From £183.04 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 193g/km

Pros

  • Great looking car.

  • Fun to drive. 

Cons

  • Quite expensive. 

  • Interior is well designed but the quality is poor. 

As SEAT’s poster car, the Ibiza has proven it has the quality and comfort time and time again. The powerful turbocharged 1.0-liter engine is a top performer, but if you’re on a tight budget, the entry-level engine does the trick around town. 

With its sporty exterior and impeccable handling, it doesn’t take much imagination to make you feel like you’re driving a car worth a whole lot more. The spacious cabin makes up for the pretty bland dashboard that is covered in hard scratchy plastics. The basic trim comes with a monochrome infotainment system that feels pretty retro, but spend a little more for the SE model and you give yourself access to an 8-inch screen with optional Apple CarPlay and Android Auto features.

If you’re planning on leasing, then the Ibiza is a really affordable car. In terms of insurance, the basic Ibiza model starts from insurance group 2 which is very reasonably priced.

Our Rating:

3. Volkswagen Polo

RRP: £13,660 - £24,280 | From £165.23 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 206g/km

Pros

  • Tech on offer is great for a supermini.

  • Really nice car to drive.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive cars in this class.

  • Exterior will be a hit or miss - some may find it a bit dull looking.

The sleek Volkswagen Polo gets sportier and sportier with every new upgrade. Now in its 6th generation, the Volkswagen Polo has all the quality and charisma to challenge any rival. 

For first time buyers, the cheapest engines will have more than enough vigour to glide you through the city streets, but if you’re looking for a little more potency, the pricier turbocharged models make easy work of country and motorway roads.

Known to most as the Golf’s smaller brother, the Polo has grown in stature and matured with style. Comfort begins as you nestle into the supportive driver's seat and then transcends through the silky steering wheel. 

All the dashboard buttons are well-positioned and at a suitable height, and the digital cluster board is crisp and responsive. Every Polo has an 8-inch touchscreen installed with sat-nav, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities are available for a minor additional price. The Polo is quite a bit cheaper than the VW Golf and Polo’s decent fuel economy and feasible insurance rates makes it a steal.

Our Rating:

4. Kia Picanto Hatchback (2017)

RRP: £9,255 - £15,150
  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Great value for money on base trims. 

  • Warranty is the best around. 

Cons

  • Cheaper engines lacking power. 

  • The most tricked-out specs decrease that value for money.

Where to begin? The Picanto is cost-effective, economical and a massive hit with first time motorists. When you combine cheap running costs with no repercussions on space, quality and performance, you’re always going to be onto a winner. The suspension feels a tad firm, but once you manage to stretch the Picanto’s legs it's graceful through any twist or turn. Alongside the supportive seats and convenient driving position, you won’t be struggling for comfort in the Picanto.

The entry-level engine is an ideal choice for first time drivers because of its low insurance group rating and efficient fuel economy. The Picanto not only possesses 5 doors, it has the space to match too. Front and rear space is pretty reasonable for a city car, although fitting three grown adults in the back might end up being a bit of a squeeze. 

Another selling point has to be Kia’s generous 7-year, 100,000 mile-warranty on every Picanto model. With a warranty like that you know you’re getting a car that backs itself in terms of reliability. 

Our Rating:

5. Ford Fiesta

RRP: £12,520 - £26,805 | From £158.75 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 179g/km

Pros

  • Best car to drive on this list. 

  • EcoBoost engines are powerful and have a low fuel consumption.

Cons

  • Entry-level trims are lacking tech.

  • Higher trims can get really expensive. 

As the UK’s best selling model, Ford must be doing something right with their cheap, stylish and nippy Fiesta model.

Suspension is resolute and handles potholes like a bruising SUV, while its sharp handling and accurate steering make the Ford Fiesta incredibly comfortable and great to drive. The EcoBoost engines are incredible, and this is easily the best car to drive on this list. 

The interior cabin feels relatively upmarket, with the soft-touch plastics on the dashboard providing an elegant touch.The Fiesta has plenty of head room for those sitting in the front, although take a seat in the back and you soon realise that three passengers is going to be a tight squeeze with knees brushing against the back of the front seats. Insurance groups for the Ford Fiesta start at group 5.

Our Rating:

6. Hyundai I10

RRP: £12,290 - £16,965 | From £163.07 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.2
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 141g/km

Pros

  • A total bargain for new drivers. 

  • Entry level trim is kitted out. 

Cons

  • Not very fun to drive. 

  • Lacks power on the motorway. 

Hyundai have continued to unleash their winning formula through their incredibly reliable and spacious i10. If you’re looking for a versatile city car with bags of practicality, the i10 is worth a look. 

For nipping around town, the entry level engine should have enough punch to do the trick, but if you’ve already planned a few road trips with your pals, you might want to do some research on slightly more powerful options.

If you’re really into your gadgets and have some spending money left over, the Premium trim is well worth the upgrade. You’ll have access to a flashy 7.0 inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring capabilities as well as a sat-nav with a seven-year subscription to ‘live’ services such as traffic and weather updates. 

Our Rating:

7. Volkswagen UP

RRP: £8,940 - £16,310
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 1.0
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 95 - 110g/km

Pros

  • Solid build quality. 

  • Economical to run: low CO2 emissions.

Cons

  • Automatic gearbox is dire. 

  • Base trim doesn’t offer much tech at all. 

For young drivers, the Up has all the capabilities and driving qualities of the Polo and Golf, but for a much more affordable price.

With only four seats, Volkswagen has made sure the Up has one of the biggest boots in the city car market. Performance-wise, the Up is gracious - suspension is disciplined, handling is flawless and it doesn’t shy away when put to the test of motorway driving.  

Step inside and you know you’re in a Volkswagen. The interior cabin provides a level of sophistication that you’d expect from a far pricier car. Even the entry-level trim feels refined and tasteful. The VW up is incredibly cheap to insure, and fuel economy is excellent. 

Our Rating:

8. Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback

RRP: £15,365 - £26,425 | From £128.51 per month to lease
  • Doors: 2 - 5
  • Engine: 1.8
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 203g/km

Pros

  • Really low running costs - great bang for your buck.

  • Standard equipment is excellent.

Cons

  • Not as well built as rivals. 

  • Doesn’t perform as well at high speed. 

You’ve probably already seen a few of these kicking around the school car park. The Vauxhall Corsa is one of the most popular cars for young drivers, and like it’s rivals, the Fiesta and Polo, the Corsa has upped the ante with some high tech kit and generous equipment.

The engines on the Corsa are respectable, are nippy around town and handle well on the motorway. Most importantly, they’re very fuel efficient and really cheap to insure. 

The entry-level Corsa comes equipped with a basic FM/AM stereo with a CD player, USB capabilities and Bluetooth connectivity. Dig a little deeper and every other Corsa trim offers you Vauxhall’s modern infotainment system with a 7.0 inch colour touchscreen with Apple and Android smartphone integration.

Our Rating:

9. Toyota Aygo Hatchback

RRP: £9,515 - £14,930
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 1.4
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 93 - 109g/km

Pros

  • Many will love the design.

  • Ridiculously cheap to run.

Cons

  • Many will hate the design.

  • Materials feel a bit cheap.

Available in a range of five trims and a diverse range of personalisation and painting options, the Toyota Aygo (practically the same car as the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1) doesn’t lack character. It has delicately light steering, and comfortable, supporting seats to ensure you feel right at home behind the wheel of your new Aygo.

Unfortunately your passengers may not agree. The two-back seats are cosy to say the least, and the boot is puny. The loading space will hardly be enough space to handle your weekly shop.

That being said, Aygo’s low running costs and proven reliability make it a desirable option. It has one of the best MPGs in the game, and for a 17-year old, the Aygo is fairly cheap to insure.

Our Rating:

10. Fiat 500 Hatchback

RRP: £10,835 - £18,860
  • Doors: 3
  • Engine: 1.4
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 149g/km

Pros

  • Easy to park. 

  • Brilliant in a city.

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other city cars. 

  • Reliability problems. 

Retro, retro, retro. If you’re looking for a modern twist on a classic 1950’s car, the Fiat 500 is well worth a look.

The entry-level Fiat 500 is one of the cheapest cars for young drivers to get their hands on. It may not be the quickest off the mark, but the petrol engine has enough eagerness to dart around town comfortably. Venture onto the motorway and the 500 will start to struggle with road and wind noise.

The iconic boxy shape of the 500 can make the Fiat feel a little cramped. Only available in three-door form, the 6-footers amongst you will struggle to clamber into the back. Unfortunately, Fiat has not made up for this in the boot. However, the boxy shape does make parking simple - an important feature for young or less experienced drivers. 

There’s no doubting the Fiat 500’s popularity amongst 17-year old drivers which is partly down to relatively low insurance costs, and because it’s so cheap at the petrol pumps

Our Rating:

Summary

Choosing your first car is a monumental decision. You want to choose a car that suits your personality, drives well and most importantly, doesn’t cost you a fortune.

There’s a fine line between a cheap car that is susceptible to breaking down and an affordable car that is cost-effective through cheap running costs and low insurance rates.

Don’t want to worry about road tax or MOT for 3 years? Consider opting for a lease deal, which offers a lower monthly fee than if you were to buy outright and finance it! 

If you don’t have much cash to work with, have a look at our cheapest cars list. For a first-time driver, it’s worth checking out our best first cars. If you need something small, nippy, and easy to park, consider leasing one of our best city cars. For even more choice, you can check all of our small car lease deals, city car lease deals, lease deals under £100, and lease deals between £100 and £200.