Here are our picks for the safest, most reliable and cheapest first cars that should be on every young adult’s radar.
Buying your first car can be a perilous trip into the unknown.
Just as when spending any substantial amount of money on anything, let alone a first car, it’s best to let your head rule the roost and not your heart.
Emotional car buying decisions come later, when you’ve got spare cash and a hankering for something special.
What to look for in a first car
When you start out, it’s always best to go for simplicity, reliability (the two often go together), safety, solid engineering, functionality and composed driving manners.
Unless you’re lucky, you’re most likely going to be buying used. To be frank it’s the more sensible option anyway. First-time owners are usually still learning the craft so best to start out with something modestly sized with similarly modest engine performance.
They might want a V8 Holden Commodore or a Toyota LandCruiser, but often that’s not the appropriate choice. Nor are those types of vehicles notably affordable to buy, run or insure.
So, bear this in mind. When it comes to the design and manufacturing of mainstream, affordable cars - the Japanese brands do it the best. If the selected model from that Japanese brand is built in Japan, even better.
We’ve backed that advice up in our list of cars below. Most are Japanese and the rest are Korean. There’s no Europeans – they’re a niche buy that can be expensive - or Chinese-made cars. No doubt, their time will come but they still have to put runs on the board.
Bear in mind when shopping that equipment levels vary not only between these different vehicles we’ve listed below, but also between models within each range. For instance, autonomous emergency braking is a key safety aid but not universal, especially in smaller used cars that are a few years old.
Bottom line: Do your research.