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MOST people start out in a hand-me-down car or a second-hand one bought by their parents.

Today we’re going to look at the next step – the day you reach for your first new small car.

It may have taken a while to get here but now that you have there is enormous choice. The biggest difficulty I have is in deciding what to include and what to exclude.

I’ve decided to go for city cars, superminis and small crossovers based on superminis.

That means not including family favourites such as the Renault Megane, Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf and more.

But as many young first-time new car buyers are likely to be single and price-sensitive, this is the logic behind the decision.

Of course details of such small cars are relevant to far more than first-time new buyers, but that group remains the prime focus of this piece.

Buying new has its upsides:

  • Finance (PCP) is more easily obtained
  • All cars have two-year warranties, many have three, a few have five and seven, and one has eight
  • New cars are safer.
  • They are easier on fuel, and petrol, hybrid and electric are most popular.

Just how good these small cars can be on longer journeys was brought home recently when I had the Toyota Aygo for a few days. I was more than impressed, not just with the car in general, but also with its drive. It was excellent. The same held true when I had the likes of the Opel Corsa, for example – an underrated car.

Yet there is no denying that smaller crossovers/SUVs based on superminis are hugely popular, so I am including some of those as well.

Let’s have a quick run-through the mainstream models first (some prices are expected because of the potential implications on price of new WLTP testing of emissions).

Citroen C1: It’s okay but not really a contender. From €13,595.

C3/ Aircross: Larger and more impressive. Smart-looking. Worth a look definitely. From €20,695.

Dacia Sandero: Lots of car for the money. Cheap, cheerful and sensible. For bargain hunters. From €10,990.

Logan: Functional and roomy estate. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. €12,490.

Duster: Included for price. New one on sale, but I don’t see youths going for it. €17,390.

Fiat Panda: Outdated now. Expected to range from around €11k to €18k.

500, 500X: Price and drive appeal. 500 from €13,895, 500X from €21,745.

Ford KA+: One of the best-value small cars on the road. €13,250 to €16,950.

Fiesta: Has to be near the top of your list. Excellent car. €16,650 to €30,570. EcoSport crossover: Based on Fiesta. Don’t like it. €27,400 to €31,680

Honda Jazz: Strongly recommended. Great little car. From €17,990.

HR-V: Stylish, Jazz-based crossover. Well worth a look. From €26,995.

Hyundai i10: Excellent city car. Surprisingly good to drive.

i20: One of the best superminis.

Kona: Excellent small-crossover option. New and fresh.

KIA Picanto: Drive it and you’ll like it. From €13,595.

Rio: Totally underrated. Recommend a test drive. €16,450.

Mazda2: Excellent supermini. You’ll be impressed. From €16,095.

CX-3: Fancy-looking small crossover. €21,295 to €29,495.

Mitsubishi Space Star: Has the engineering credentials but a bit ho-hum for a first-time buyer. From €13,495.

Nissan Micra: Young, bright and smart. Test-drive material. €16,650 to €23,650.

Juke: You love or hate the shape of this small crossover.  €21,445 to €25,795.

Leaf: Big-selling electric and improved. Recommended €28,690 to €32,600.

Opel Karl: Hasn’t impacted but a tidy proposition, from €14,095.

Adam: Same, from €16,250.

Corsa: Underrated and recommended. Far nicer than it gets credit for. I always enjoy a drive in a Corsa, be it the one with the smallest engine or the nicely quick GSi. Give a 3dr (from €15,350) a test drive. There’s a 5dr from €15,950.

Crossland X: Stylish choice for a small crossover. From €22,195.

Mokka X: Slightly larger crossover that has good room and is well-priced. From €25,245

Peugeot 108: nippy little city car. Well priced, from €13,440.

208: Peugeot’s superminis are always worth a look, from €15,905.

2008SUV: stylish small crossover, from €20,545.

Renault Twingo: Handy about town, but not a favourite of mine, from €13,990.

Clio: Stylish looks and sharp drive. Well worth a test drive, from €16,390.

Captur: Hugely popular, from €20,290.

Zoe: Much improved electric car. Good range, nice drive, from €23,490 (includes price of battery). I’ve driven this from Dublin to Connemara on one charge.

SEAT  Mii: Well-priced city-car cousin of SKODA Citigo, from €13,650.

Ibiza: Have to recommend it. Great style. Due to WLTP, not all pricing confirmed.

Arona: Classy little crossover. Well priced. €18,415

SKODA Citigo: Popular city car. Well regarded. From €11,095 3dr, €11,595, 5dr.

Fabia: Recommended for a test drive. From €15,450 to €26,345.

Rapid: Not a favourite but practical and well priced. From €19,450 to €26,340.

Suzuki Celerio: Hasn’t recovered from brake incident at launch. From €9,995.

Ignis: Boxy but good value at €13,995.

Baleno: Good price, spec and safety  at €16,495.

Swift: Great large supermini at €14,995.

Vitara: Worth a try, from €21,995.

Toyota Aygo: Smart looks and reliability make it top three-listed. From €14,355.

Yaris: Consistently among the best sellers for good reason. From €15,950.

Volkswagen up!: Character, room and drive. Bit expensive at €11,995 to €14,995.

Polo: Brilliant room, looks much better.  From €16,795 to €32,395.

T-Roc: Small crossover has style and pep. Recommended. From €24,750.

Beetle: Last of model. From €25,350.

Small but posh

Few extra euro to splash? Here’s a quick list of some posh possibles.

Audi A1: Wait for new one later in year.

A3: One of the best. From €29,210.

Q2: Small smart crossover. €31,260.

BMW 1 Series: 3dr, €31,780, 5dr: €32,590. Underrated.

2- Series Coupé 218i SE: €35,570. Lovely.

X1: €39,450, much better this time round.

X2 sDrive18d SE: €43,110. Smart.

Lexus CT 200h: About-town hybrid that’s been around a long time now.

Mercedes A-Class: My pick of all the small poshes. Superb. From €27,860.

CLA: classy popular saloon.

GLA: Low-slung crossover based on CLA. Popular. From €31,875.

MINI One, 3dr, 5dr: Great fun, but pricey. 3dr from €22,100, 5dr €23,160.

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