Best cars for learners: what car should I learn to drive in?

The best cars for learners are easy to drive, with light controls and good all-round visibility. They should be safe and reliable models, but they don’t need every last bell and whistle.

What are the best cars for learners?

Right now, our favourite small car is the Renault Clio. It’s packed with safety kit, easy to drive, and looks great too. We named it the FirstCar New Car of the Year 2021.

There are lots of other great new cars out there. The Ford Fiesta is great fun, the Nissan Micra is a brilliant all-rounder, and the Volkswagen Polo is exceptionally safe.

If you are looking for a used car, our top pick is the Hyundai i20. A Kia Picanto, Skoda Citigo, or Toyota Aygo would also be on our shortlist.

But if we’re talking about a car to learn in rather than a car to buy, don’t worry too much. It’s much more important to find a really good driving school and an instructor who you click with. The car they happen to use for lessons is much less crucial than their teaching skills.

If we’re talking about a car to practise in between lessons, then a small car of your own is great. But until you pass it’s more likely you’ll get some extra driving experience in a car owned by a friend or family member, so you won’t have a lot of choice.

Should I learn in a manual or auto?

Unless you are really struggling to get to grips with clutch control, or you have a condition that makes driving an auto essential, it’s usually best to learn in a manual. That’s because once you pass your practical test in a manual you can drive cars with manual or automatic gearboxes. If you pass in an auto that’s what you’ll be qualified to drive. So under most circumstances, the best cars for learners have manual gearboxes.

Big driving schools like RED will usually have a choice of manual and automatic cars for you to learn in, although manuals are more popular.

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