Award Categories & Judging

A number of categories are available for individual entries. These categories are Marketing Campaign of the Year, App of the Year, Safety Technology of the Year, Road Safety Initiative of the Year, In-Car Product of the Year and Finance Product of the Year. All other car categories will be shortlisted and assessed by a panel of judges led by FirstCar editor David Motton.

18 awards will be presented, with an overall Winner and Highly Commended for each category. Only three entries will be shortlisted and each of them will be invited along to the awards ceremony as guests of FirstCar.


Marketing Campaign of the Year

This award is for marketing campaigns aimed at young drivers. They could relate to road safety or to promoting products and services relevant to the young driver market. 

The judging panel will want to see proof of effective use of social media, high levels of engagement and success against the campaign's chosen KPIs. 

To enter a campaign for this award, businesses and their agencies should complete the entry form. 

[download entry form]

App of the Year

This award is for the best app aimed at learners or newly qualified drivers. 

It could be a driver training aid, a revision tool for the theory test, or a way for telematics insurance customers to keep track of their driving feedback. So long as it's aimed at young drivers, any app could be in the running. 

Companies should complete the entry form to enter, although FirstCar may also choose to nominate particular apps for this award. 

[download entry form]

Safety Technology of the Year

Sponsored by ingenie

This award is for original equipment road safety technology. We're looking for ingenious driver assistance systems and safety aids fitted to the kind of cars which learners and newly qualified young drivers are most likely to drive. 

Potential award winners might include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems, post-collision braking, pedestrian detection systems, and restricted driving modes for young drivers. 

Manufacturers can enter specific technologies for consideration through the entry form. FirstCar may also choose to nominate particular technologies for this award. 

[download entry form]

Road Safety Initiative of the Year

Sponsored by tso

This new award for 2019 is for innovations in driver training, online learning, and road safety education. In this broad category, entries could include videos, virtual reality films, internet-based training courses, and more. 

FirstCar is looking for initiatives which support new drivers, their instructors, and road safety practitioners in improving road safety. 

Initiatives can be entered for this award through the entry form, although FirstCar may also choose to nominate particular schemes.  

[download entry form]

Product of the Year

FirstCar is looking for in-car products which encourage responsible driving and help young drivers to stay safe. 

These products could be high-tech, or simple but effective. So long as they make driving safer, they will be considered for the 'In-Car Product of the Year' award. Possible contenders include signal-blocking phone wallets, dash cams, illuminated warning triangles and glovebox first-aid kits. 

Manufacturers should use the entry form to enter, although FirstCar may also nominate products. 

[download entry form]

Finance Product of the Year

FirstCar is looking for the very best finance products for young drivers. 

To qualify for this award, a finance product should be available to 18-year-olds. It should make a new car more affordable for new drivers and their families, and ideally it should address the high cost of insurance cover. 

Car manufacturers and their finance houses should complete the entry form and send a current finance example complete with full terms and conditions. 

[download entry form]

Retailer of the Year 

Sponsored by Warranty Direct

(1-10 sites) 

We're looking for the dealer or small dealer group which has done more than any other to attract young drivers and support them in buying and running their car. Specific events aimed at new drivers and strong evidence of customer satisfaction will be key to winning this award. 

[download entry form]

(11+ sites) 

FirstCar will name the best dealer group (with 11 sites or more) for new drivers. To be in contention, a dealer group will need to show evidence of a supportive approach to young drivers, with specific events or initiatives aimed at this demographic. Independently verified customer satisfaction ratings will also form part of the judging. 

[download entry form]

Green Car of the Year

FirstCar's expert judges will choose the 'Green Car of the Year'. 

To be in with a chance of winning this award, a car will need excellent fuel economy and low carbon dioxide emissions. Our judges will also consider the car's NOx and particulate emissions. 

Any 'Green Car of the Year' for young drivers will need to be affordable to buy and run as well as having strong environmental credentials. 

Safe Car of the Year

This award is for the small car which does most to keep its occupants and other road users safe. 

As well as an excellent rating from the safety experts at Euro NCAP, any car in contention for this award should have safety features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) fitted as standard or at the very least available as an option.  

It should also be easy to drive and have good all-round visibility to help inexperienced drivers avoid a collision. 

Most Wanted First Car of the Year

Sponsored by Driving Test Success

New for 2019, we're introducing a Most Wanted First Car award. This award is for the coolest, most desirable first car. From a shortlist put together by our expert judges, the prize will go to the car you vote as the 'Most Wanted First Car. 

In other words we're not asking you to tell us which is the most sensible buy, it's the car you really want, the car you would buy if a long lost relative left you some money.

But we're not talking about outlandish or unrealistic first cars – these cars are within reach – if you are lucky (So the likes of the La Ferrari, Bugatti Veyron or the McLaren F1 aren't on the shortlist).

Click below to vote for your favourite. The winner will be announced 6 February 2019.


Used Car of the Year

Sponsored by Warranty Direct

Up to £2000
We're looking for the best affordable used car on the market. FirstCar's expert judging panel will consider value for money, safety, reliability and ease of driving to choose from the finest cars for up to £2000. The winning car should prove that being on a tight budget is no barrier to owing a first car to be proud of. 

Up to £5000
FirstCar's judges will consider price, safety equipment, durability and running costs when deciding on the 'Best Used Car (up to £5000)'. At this price point, we're expecting plenty of modern safety equipment and a fuel-efficient engine. Cars should be easy to drive and painless to own. 

Up to £10,000
With a budget of up to £10,000, young drivers and their families can expect a thoroughly modern used car with excellent safety standards and a fuel-efficient engine. Reliability is still important, and so is the length of the original warranty. Cars should be practical, simple to drive and a pleasure to live with. 

Overall winner
Most first cars are used cars. To win the FirstCar 'Used Car of the Year' title, a car will need to be reliable, safe, and affordable to buy and run. 

Reliability will be key to our assessment, using data from the Warranty Direct Reliability Index. Cars should be dependable and affordable to put right when they do go wrong. Safety will be rated through Euro NCAP results and the standard fitment of important safety features. Each car will also be scored on value for money and running costs, such as fuel economy and insurance. Ease of driving will also contribute to the car's overall score. 

The winning car will be a great all-round buy, combining value, dependability and safety. 

Car of the Year

Sponsored by Warranty Direct

City car
The smallest models on sale, the best city cars make great first cars for new drivers. Their compact size makes them easy to park, and fuel bills and insurance costs are often rock-bottom. 

However, driving a small car shouldn't mean compromising on safety, so our judges will be looking for cars with an excellent safety rating from the experts at Euro NCAP. They will also consider the availability of the latest safety kit, like autonomous emergency braking (AEB). 

Each car will also be assessed for reliability, practicality and ease of driving. We're also looking for cars which have plenty of scope for personalisation. 

To win this award a car will need to combine value, safety and desirability. 

Being that bit bigger than a city car, superminis can be a more practical choice. 

As well as assessing every shortlisted car for passenger and luggage space, our judges will consider every aspect of each car's performance and specification. 

Safety will be assessed by checking a car's Euro NCAP safety rating and the driver assistance systems and safety aids fitted as standard. 

Running costs should be affordable, so we're looking for cars with fuel-efficient engines and low insurance groupings. 

We'll carefully consider a car's reliability, too, and the peace of mind offered by the warranty package. 

If a manufacturer offers buyers the chance to personalise the car's appearance, inside and out, so much the better. 

To win this award, a supermini will need to be easy to drive, extremely safe, and inexpensive to buy and run. 

Overall winner
The most prestigious of all the prizes to be presented at the FirstCar Awards, the FirstCar 'Car of the Year' will be the ideal new car for young drivers. It could be either a city car or a supermini. 

To be in with a chance of the title, any new car will need to offer the complete package. We're looking for a car that's safe, reliable, affordable, easy to drive and packed with technology. 

Reliability must be a given, backed by a thorough warranty to cover any faults which do occur. Safety will also be a key consideration, assessed through Euro NCAP test results and whether or not a car is fitted with an autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system. 

We're looking for a small car with big car features, such as smartphone connectivity. It should also be easy to drive, have low insurance premiums and rock-bottom fuel costs. 

We know that young drivers like to make a new car their own, so the greater the scope for personalisation the better. 

The winning car will help young drivers stay safe and keep their running costs low. Quite simply, it will be the ultimate first car.