Best cars for first-time drivers

Toyota Aygo

The best car for first-time drivers is the Toyota Aygo, according to research by CarGurus

The leading automotive marketplace in the UK surveyed 1,000 motorists who passed their driving test in the past three years.

Low price topped the list of most important criteria, according to 30% of those surveyed. And with budget top of mind, most said they would prefer to stay under £8,000 for their first car.

Insurance cost is next among top priorities (27%), followed by the number of miles on the clock (24%), and fuel consumption (24%).

Reliability is also important (22%), as are factors like MOT history (19%), service history (18%), and vehicle age (18%).

When asked about the top preferred extra features, drivers noted Bluetooth connectivity (45%), parking sensors (44%), and parking cameras (41%) as the most important.

And when choosing between types of gearboxes, the majority (57%) would opt for an automatic. The study also revealed that new drivers would choose a petrol-powered car (46%), followed by electric (19%), diesel (19%), and hybrid (16%).

In terms of body style and size, new drivers have a preference for SUVs (21%) and hatchbacks (20%) and primarily prefer vehicles that seat four (37%) to five (52%) people.

New drivers, on average, would be willing to insure their car for a maximum of £1,100 and they would expect to travel an average of 70 miles a week in their vehicle.

For those paying for their first car on finance, the average a driver would be willing to pay per month is £371.

According to CarGurus, the Toyota Aygo excelled thanks to reliability, as the Japanese brand makes some of the most dependable cars on the market.

The Aygo’s affordability is another key factor. According to CarGurus Instant Market Value data, buyers should be able to purchase a six-year-old petrol-engined Aygo with an automatic gearbox within the budget specified by survey participants.

The 71bhp 1.0-litre Aygo returns a very competitive 64mpg when paired with the X-Shift automatic gearbox, making fuel costs affordable.

As insurance groupings stand between six and nine for an Aygo of this spec, this low classification means that premiums should be realistic for new drivers – around £1,500.

In addition, for buyers looking for extra peace of mind, Toyota’s Warranty can be extended by a year or 10,000 miles when the car is serviced according to schedule at an authorised Toyota dealer, up to a maximum age of ten years or 100,000 miles.

No 1 car for first-time drivers
Toyota Aygo (2014-2021)

Runners-up (in no particular order)
Peugeot 108/Citroen C1 (2014-2021)
Kia Picanto (2011-2016)
Hyundai i10 (2014-2019)
Nissan Micra (2017-2022)
Volkswagen Up (2012-2023)
Ford Fiesta (2008-2017)
Renault Clio (2013-2018)
Renault Zoe (2013-2019) – electric
Kia Soul EV Mk1 (2014-2019) – electric

Revealed: The UK’s growing number of DIY motorists

Gareth Herincx

1 day ago
Auto News

eBay helping DIY drivers

More than a third of drivers would rather fix minor car issues themselves than pay for a professional to do it, new research suggests.

According to eBay UK’s study, saving money is a key reason for savvy motorists taking on smaller repair jobs.

Worryingly, one-in-10 claimed they don’t think MOT advisories are a big deal, and nearly a quarter (22%) admitted to delaying repairs for as long as possible.

Also, 34% of motorists delayed getting MOT advisories fixed last year due to rising living costs, with another 33% stating that they were unable to afford the repairs.

The research also revealed that the most common MOT failure issues were inoperative lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment (23%), followed closely by suspension (18%), brake issues (14%) and defective tyres (13%) – many of which could be easily avoided.

Hannah Gordon, eBay UK’s expert mechanic, said: “The car is an essential part of many people’s lives, so being without it due to an MOT fail plays into the dread that many people feel around the annual test.

“Often, minor faults such as frayed windscreen wipers can be easily replaced, and by searching on eBay UK you can save time and money by sourcing and fitting the parts yourself.”

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Major EV milestone reached by Osprey Charging

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Osprey Charging

Osprey Charging now has more than 1,000 live public EV chargers available for use by the UK’s EV drivers.

Osprey’s network, which according to ZapMap is the third largest in terms of the number of public rapid and ultra-rapid chargers, has grown by more than 150% over the past year.

Flagship hubs have opened in key locations such as Devon, Cumbria, Essex, Dunbartonshire, Carmarthenshire and Nottinghamshire.

“With over 1,000 public rapid EV chargers now available on the Osprey network, we are providing the essential infrastructure that drivers and industry are calling for to support the electric vehicle revolution,” said Ian Johnston, Osprey Charging CEO.

“The rate of growth is matched by the highest standards of service offered to our drivers, through a reliable and easy to use nationwide network.”

With hundreds of locations spread across both rural and urban locations throughout the UK, Osprey chargers have an outstanding reliability rate of 99%, while its straightforward charging experience has seen Osprey recognised as a ‘Driver Recommended Network’ by Zap Map for a fourth time.

At the 2023 Transport and Energy awards, Osprey was named Best EV Charging Network, shortly followed by winning Chargepoint Network of the Year at the 2023 Electric Vehicle Innovation and Excellence Awards (EVIEs).

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Kia EV9 crowned World Car of the Year 2024

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21 hours ago
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Kia EV9

The Kia EV9 has done the double at the 2024 World Car Awards, securing both the World Car of the Year and World Electric Vehicle titles.

Selected by a jury of 100 automotive journalists representing 29 countries, the World Car Awards recognised the Kia EV9’s innovative design, spacious seven-seat interior, and competitive price point.

Since its launch, Kia’s first dedicated three-row EV SUV has collected a number of prizes, including winning ‘Family Car of the Year’ at the 2023 TopGear.com Awards, overall ‘Car of the Year’ and ‘Best Premium Electric Car’ at the 2024 DrivingElectric Awards; and most recently ‘UK Car of the Year 2024’.

“We are hugely honoured that the 2024 EV9 has been named the World Car of the Year and World Electric Vehicle,” said Ho Sung Song, President and CEO at Kia.

“This triumph is a testament to our unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of technology and design excellence.”

The EV9 beat off competition from the Volvo EX30 and BYD Seal for the overall title, plus the BMW i5 (and Volvo again) in the electric vehicle contest.

However, the Volvo EX30 didn’t miss out completely and was voted World Urban Car of the Year, while the Toyota Prius carried off the Design of the Year.

The BMW 5 Series was named World Luxury Car of the Year and the World Performance Car of the Year was Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 N.

Motorsport legend Adrian Newey, currently Chief Technical Officer of the Red Bull Racing F1 team, was named World Car Person of the Year.

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Toyota C-HR Plug-in Hybrid review

Toyota CH-R PHEV

We put the PHEV version of Toyota’s funky family car through its paces…

Cards on table time. We’re already fans of the latest Toyota C-HR family crossover. If a car could be judged purely on its styling, it would be best-in-class.

When we first tested the second-generation C-HR in 2023, it was the full hybrid (‘self-charging hybrid’ in Toyota-speak) version.

Now the new C-HR’s appeal has been widened further with the addition of a plug-in hybrid to the line-up.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

Before we assess the PHEV, let’s time travel back to 2017 when the first generation ‘Coupe-High Rider’ was launched in the UK.

With its radical looks, it was something of a departure for Toyota which was still selling the conservative Auris and Avensis at the time.

The funky C-HR was a aerodynamic crossover with a low-slung roofline like a coupe. Distinctively styled with a big roof spoiler and sloping rear window, it sold very well but it wasn’t without issues.

The new Toyota C-HR is a looker. A more grown-up version of the outgoing model, it boasts a wider stance and the original’s curves have been replaced by sharper lines and solid surfacing.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

Once again there’s a heavily raked tailgate, though this time it features a dual-element rear spoiler and a full-width LED light bar below with an illuminated ‘C-HR’.

At the front, it features the new ‘hammerhead’ face of Toyota SUVs, while the ‘hidden’ raised rear door handles have been replaced by retractable ones, front and rear. Overall build quality, interior materials and technology have also been upgraded.

The plug-in hybrid C-HR is priced from £39,145, which is a jump from the entry-level full hybrid model (£31,290). Additionally, there are three PHEV trim levels – Design, Excel and GR Sport.

It uses the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the most powerful hybrid model. However, it’s paired with a bigger electric motor (161bhp) and larger battery pack (13.6kWh compared to 11.1kWh), boosting total output from 194bhp to 220bhp.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

This extra power translates into a swift 0–62mph time of 7.4 seconds, compared to 8.1 seconds for the 2.0-litre hybrid model and 10.2 seconds for the 1.8-litre hybrid model. It’s also worth noting that the C-HR PHEV is front-wheel drive – there is no AWD option.

In theory, the plug-in hybrid is capable of 353.1mpg, while CO2 emissions are a low 19g/km, putting it in the 8% benefit-in-kind company car tax band.

But, of course, it’s the fact that the PHEV has an all-electric driving range of up to 41 miles (more than most rivals) that matters most. If you can charge at home and your commute is short (or you just use your car for short journeys) your trips to the garage could be few and far between.

As with all plug-in hybrids, it’s most economical when it’s not used for long journeys and is kept charged up.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

Significantly, Toyota says the C-HR PHEV uses less fuel when running in hybrid mode compared to most competitor plug-ins because the clutch-less dual motor system eliminates friction and wear. We’d need a week or so with the car to be able to comment, but we certainly noticed the EV light regularly popping up on the dash while driving.

First impressions count, and the second-gen Toyota C-HR certainly oozes kerb appeal, especially if you opt for a two-tone paint-job.

In terms of size, its dimensions are almost identical to the Suzuki S-Cross, which makes it a tad smaller than its main competitors (including the Nissan Qashqai), but bigger than cars in the class below (eg Nissan Juke).

The driving position will be on the high side for some, but you soon get used to it because it’s comfortable with a decent amount of support.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

There are roomier cabins, not just because the C-HR isn’t as wide as some rivals, but the driver focused set-up with high centre console makes it snug, especially on the passenger side.

The good news is that the 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen combined with the driver’s digital display looks the part and works well enough. And mercifully, the C-HR has some physical controls for essentials such as air-conditioning.

There’s reasonable space for passengers at the back, while the cabin as a whole has a classier feel, with more soft-touch surfaces.

Toyota’s also ticked the sustainability box because the seat fabrics are made from recycled plastic bottles and there’s animal-free ‘leather’ on the steering wheel.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

Load capacity is a modest 310 litres (down from 388 litres in the 1.8 Hybrid), while the 60:40 split rear seats flip to increase cargo volume to 1,076 litres.

Visibility is good ahead, but slightly more challenging behind thanks to those chunky rear pillars and small rear windows. Thankfully, all versions have a reversing camera.

On the road, the C-HR is refined for the most part. Every time you start a journey, it defaults to fully-electric mode and it will continue that way until it’s run out of battery charge.

However, if you’re heavy with your right foot, or your battery is out of charge, the petrol engine will kick in.

Drive smoothly and it’s fine, but if you hustle it the CVT automatic gearbox causes the revs to rise and stay high until you’ve reached your desired speed. The din in the cabin soon settles down, but it puts you off driving anything but sensibly.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

That said, it has a supple suspension with only the worst lumps and bumps upsetting the calm progress. So, it’s one of the more comfortable SUVs on the market.

Light steering suits its natural urban habitat well, but the C-HR is at its best cruising along. It would be an exaggeration to call it dynamic on entertaining B-roads, but it’s agile and there are good levels of body control, while grip is decent.

The C-HR flips between electric and engine drive seamlessly, and it’s as close as you can get to driving a 100% electric car when it’s running in EV mode.

The other three modes available are auto EV/HV, HV and charging.

In EV/HV mode the engine will engage when extra power is needed, returning to EV running afterwards.

Toyota CH-R PHEV

HV mode helps maintain the battery’s state of charge and is engaged automatically when battery charge runs low, while charging mode can be used when the driver wants to charge the EV battery when driving, using power generated by the engine.

Additionally, there are three drive modes – Normal, Eco and Sport – plus Custom, which allows the driver to select their preferred powertrain, steering and air conditioning settings.

Finally, it’s always worth remembering that the C-HR comes with a three-year warranty that extends up to 10 years/100,000 miles so long as your car is serviced annually at an authorised Toyota workshop.

Verdict: The eye-catching Toyota C-HR Plug-in Hybrid is easy to drive, comfortable and well equipped, with the potential to be super economical. It may not be the cheapest or most spacious family PHEV, but it’s definitely got that wow factor.

Toyota UK