First Car

Priorities Ranked: What New Drivers Must Look for in their First Car

Choosing a first car is tricky. You need to balance…

Published: 3rd October 2017

Buying your first car will be an exciting experience.

There’s so much choice available that it can be somewhat overwhelming to know where to start though. Walking into a showroom or dealership with little idea of what you want or need can lead to buying the wrong car for you.

Likewise, many new drivers won’t focus on the right priorities when browsing potential vehicles, such as looks and colour above all else, while ignoring important factors such as new driver insurance. That’s why we put together this checklist of what your priorities should be when looking at cars for new drivers.

Savings Jar


There’s no point looking at a brand new Audi A8 if your budget is well within four figures. That’s why price and budget should be your first priority, as it will avoid wasting time looking at vehicles that you can’t afford. Set yourself a maximum budget, which will help inform the types of car you can afford and research the best available models within those price constraints.

Remember that the car’s value can impact on other aspects such as fuel costs, new driver insurance and more.

Brand and Model

It can be tempting to only look at premium manufacturers like BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and more when examining cars for new drivers. Depending on your budget however, these may not be realistic. There are plenty of quality cars available from other brands that are ideal for new drivers.

The best course of action is to read reviews of any models that catch your eye to get a good idea of their performance and qualities. Choosing a popular make and model should also mean repairs will be cheaper as parts should be readily available, compared to owning a rarer or more expensive car.

Petrol and Diesel Pumps


Fuel costs will be one of the biggest expenses of owning a car and it’s something many new drivers can easily overlook. Petrol cars are usually cheaper to buy and fill up, though diesel vehicles normally go further on less fuel.

The most economical cars can do up to around 70 miles per gallon (mpg), while hybrid models can be worth looking at, especially for city drivers. Again, read reviews and try to find real world mpg figures, as the ones claimed by manufacturers are usually recorded under strict test conditions unlike real life driving. The greater the real mpg, the better.


In-car technology is constantly improving and there are now many gadgets and features that come with the latest models. Not all of them are essential, but as a priority you should ensure the car has basic features including air conditioning, a radio and electric windows at the very minimum as they all provide convenience when behind the wheel.

The best cars for new drivers feature some of the latest technology such as reverse cameras, parking assist, lane change warnings and more. An integrated sat-nav is useful as well, while the likes of heated seats and automatic climate control can provide an added luxury. Not all of these are essential but it is worth picking out which you need when looking at cars for sale.

Safety Features

Airbags and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are vital safety features you should look for in any car. For an easier and safer ride, there are various other features that reduce distractions and the chance of an accident while driving:

  • Cruise control
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Blind spot warning
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Voice controls
  • Park assist
  • Back-up cameras

The more car safety features, the better chance of lowering insurance quotes for new drivers too. Colour can also be an important consideration, with studies regularly showing black cars are more likely to be involved in crashes and white, gold and yellow least likely (though other factors play a part).

GAP Insurance

New driver insurance will be another expense to consider and will be affected depending on the vehicle. ALA GAP Insurance should also be a priority when buying cars for new drivers. This covers the shortfall between what is paid for a vehicle and the insurance pay out if your car is stolen, involved in an accident or damaged by fire or floods and written off, which is especially a risk for new drivers.
Think about all of these priorities when looking to buy your first car to ensure you pick one that’s right for you.

Published: 3rd October 2017
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