These are the 10 best first cars on the new car market for teens

Small subcompacts are an endangered species. In the past, they were the car of choice for teenagers and new drivers, but today the smallest cars are already usually found in the compact segment.



Larger vehicles became more efficient and affordable, almost completely eliminating the need for smaller cars, and the car-buying public spoke with their wallets as demand all but dried up. That doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there, far from it. There are some great new compact cars out there, all perfect for new drivers that further boost confidence behind the wheel.

The used car market is the obvious first choice, but if you’re determined to buy new, these are the 10 best options for young gearheads.

10 Honda-Civic

Over the years the humble Civic has built up a huge fanbase for itself, and if you ask any Honda fans, the latest offering is one of the best cars the brand has produced.

Unfortunately, a key ingredient is missing; a manual transmission…unless you’re willing to shell out for the sporty Si model (pictured above).

9 Subaru Impreza

The Impreza isn’t trying to be a WRX, but it’s an attractive, well-balanced package with a very affordable price tag.

It stands out for being the only all-wheel-drive car in this price range, and the flat 4 also offers great power. The icing on the cake is the fact that you can get it with a manual transmission.

Related: This Is Why Gearheads Should Consider Buying A Used Subaru Impreza WRX STI Hatchback

8 Kia Soul

Like the Impreza, the Soul offers a manual transmission coupled with a trendy look and a bargain price.

In many ways this is such an unusual little car, its boxy design makes it look a bit like an oversized kei car, so as much as that will make it a bit polarizing, there’s definitely a market for it.

seven Ford Maverick

For those young outdoor sports or dirt bike enthusiasts, we couldn’t imagine a better vehicle than the new Maverick. It’s as practical as its much larger counterparts and also suitable for people who aren’t looking for a pickup.

Unfortunately, the catch for the Maverick is that everyone seems to want one, and the waiting list is quite long.

Related: Here’s Why The New Ford Maverick Is Selling Better Than Every Other Compact Pickup

6 Nissan Versa

While that might not be the definition of fun for everyone, with the low-end manual it actually can be, especially considering the price.

It certainly won’t set the world on fire spec-wise, but most gearheads like the idea of ​​adding a few personal touches and it’s kind of a blank canvas of a car. Whatever you do, don’t get the CVT version.

5 Mazda CX-30

Over the last decade or so, since Mazda parted ways with Ford, they’ve gotten more and more powerful, and the CX-30 is just another in a long line of great small cars that they manufacture.

Their Skyactiv engines are easy to handle, modern and efficient. They also happen to be pretty much bulletproof. Unfortunately, there is no manual option.

Related: 10 reasons why the Mazda 2 is a great buy

4 VW Jetta

Over the past few years, diesel has become something of a dirty word for VW, and their petrol engines are also less than perfect with multiple recalls associated with them.

That said, the Jetta is more spacious than the competition and a lot of fun to drive. It’s also more economical to start, especially if you opt for their affordable base model which comes standard with a smooth-shifting 6-speed manual.


3 Mini Cooper SE

One thing about the Mini that most people hate is the fact that it’s a small car with luxury car running costs, but with the EV version, all of that can be circumvented.

It easily has the best chassis of any small car on the market today and it’s a really engaging car to drive. Unfortunately, the relatively aggressive pricing is down to the mid-range, which means you’ll only be able to take advantage of the impressive handling for short periods of time.

Related: 10 reasons why the Mini Cooper SE is the perfect electric city car

2 Mazda3

Although these are a bit behind in terms of innovation, they are still very safe cars that punch well above their price in terms of build quality.

Much like the CX-30, the Mazda 3 offers exceptional driver engagement, and with better weight distribution, it’ll be quicker around corners.

1 VW Golf

What you get with the Golf is all the good stuff from the aforementioned Jetta packed into a stiffer chassis. It has a firmer ride, but the improved handling is definitely a compromise most would be willing to accept.

Running costs will be slightly higher than rivals, but if you want that level of refinement you’ll just have to accept it.

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