Back to home
in Lifestyle Lessons

What will your first set of wheels look like?

  • February 8, 2017
  • By Nick Vincent

Buying your first car is one of the most exciting, nerve-wracking and financially taxing parts of your younger life. However, with soaring insurance costs, a range of finance options available and a flourishing used car market, what and how we buy our first cars is changing. What does the UK’s first set of wheels look like? The Trade Centre Wales has gathered the following research to find out:

Average age people pass their driving test

According to data from RED Driving School, the average age of people passing their test is now 26 years of age.

For drivers younger than that, the rate at which they pass their test can vary. According to official GOV.UK data, the actual pass rate of drivers will surprise you. Across each driving test centre, the average pass rate for 17-year-old drivers in 2015 was the highest of any age group between 17-25, standing at 59%! The only other rate that comes close is 23 year olds, who had a 53.92% pass rate.

With those contrasting figures in mind, the logical explanation is that a higher volume of 26 year olds are taking their tests and passing, but the smaller number of 17 year olds enjoy the highest actual rate of success.


Average age of new car owners

Research from Aviva found that 25 years old was the most popular age for first-time car ownership in the UK in the 2010’s. This is up four years from 21 years of age in the 1960’s.

Most popular first car

While the most popular new car model in 2016 was the Ford Fiesta, first-time drivers will be facing a different decision with their purchase. Young people spend around £3,825 on their first vehicle – with one third of them getting financial help from their parents. For that price, used models from 2010/11 from popular brands such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa will be in their range.

Interestingly, Aviva found that just 47% of people were in employment when they bought their first car. Perhaps more people are relying on inherited funds or parent’s money than previously thought?

Average cost of insurance for young drivers

By the end of 2015, reported 17-year-old drivers paid almost £1,900 for their car insurance, while 21-year-old drivers paid out £1,400. One in five people have their insurance paid for them – which may come as no surprise considering a premium for a 17-year-old is practically 50% of the average first-time car purchase.

Advice for young drivers

Ultimately, young drivers need to keep costs down on their first vehicle in order to afford costly insurance premiums. While some methods exist to keep premiums down, such as using a black box, buying online, reducing your mileage etc., you’ll still be faced with a hefty premium. Ensure the car you buy is in a low insurance group and is economic. You can even get used car finance options to help offset the cost. Some great examples of a first car include:

  • Hyundai i10 – Not only is this a low insurance group car, but models from 2010 will cost less than the average price of a first car, at around £3,000.
  • Skoda Citigo – The highest rated example of the Seat Mii, VW Up and Skoda Citigo, this is a car for city drivers. It will cost you around £3,800 for a 2012 model.
  • Vauxhall Corsa – Existing as one of Britain’s most popular cars and also located in Insurance Group 2, the Corsa is a very affordable choice. Prices start at around £3,000 for good models from 2010.

With young drivers now struggling to buy a first car, it’s important to do everything you can to bring the cost down. It’s clear from the figures above that purchasing your first car is a pricey endeavour – so whether you’re struggling to buy your own first vehicle or you’re a parent looking to help their children get on the road, know that you’re not alone.


By Nick Vincent, February 8, 2017