You may have thought that getting your driving licence was the tricky part, but the fun has only just started. Now you need to buy a car and, more crucially, get it insured. Forget dreams of Porsches and Ferraris for now; you need something that is cheap, cheerful, reliable (hopefully), safe and inexpensive to insure. We're talking no higher than group one insurance, which, given your limited experience, still won't be cheap. We've rooted around the great big virtual used car showroom that is the Internet and come up with list of cars that you should be able buy, run and insure relatively inexpensively.
Car: Year: 2004-present Prices from: £1,200-£7,800 Insurance group: 1
Fiat's Panda may not leave you aching with desire, but it's a very nice entry point into motoring. It's easy to drive, a cinch to park, and - even powered by the 1.1-litre engine you'll be limited to for group 1 insurance - reasonably brisk. It'll seat four comfortably, too. Prices start at around £1,200 for a high mileage six-year old example, or if your mum and dad are feeling generous the Panda is still available new at Fiat dealers. 'Top Gear's James May famously owns one. Though don't let that put you off...
Car: /Peugeot 107/Citroen C1 Year: 2005-present Prices from: £2,200-£10,500 Insurance group: 1
Around since 2005, the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107 triplets provide smart, inexpensive transportation. They might wear different badges and slightly different styling, but they're mechanically identical and they are all built at the same factory. We like the Toyota's styling best, though the Peugeot and Citroen should be a tiny bit cheaper second-hand. All attract group one insurance thanks to their 1.0-litre engine and yet they are surprisingly enjoyable to drive.
Car: Year: 2000-2007 Prices from: £1,000-£4,000 Insurance group: 1
It's a bit workmanlike inside, but the Skoda Fabia feels built to last. It's basically a VW Polo that the Czechs have re-engineered to their even tougher standards - Czech roads make ours look positively snooker-table smooth. If you can only afford group one insurance you're stuck with the 1.2-litre engine, but it does a decent enough job and won't use too much fuel. An eminently sensible choice, the Fabia is a cracking first car. If your friends start with the Skoda jokes, tell them to walk.
Car: Year: 2005-present Prices from: £1,300-£8,285 Insurance group: 1
This one's been around for a while, with the Matiz wearing Daewoo badges before it became a Chevrolet. It's a capable, inexpensive first car though, which is a doddle in town. For super cheap group one insurance you need the 800cc engine, which isn't the most refined or the quickest, but it's not without charm. Decent space inside and super cheap running costs are what count here, and the Matiz has both.
Car: Year: 2004-2007 Prices from: £1,700-£3,900 Insurance group: 1
The Smart Fortwo is exactly that, 'for two'. Forget taking any more than one of your friends anywhere, but the Smart has other talents. It's a doddle to park, is great in town and has an automatic gearbox - though the shift isn't much better than you probably managed the first time you drove a manual car. It's safe and strong, but if you're planning on longer journeys then we'd probably choose one of the other cars listed here - the Smart is at its best in the urban jungle.
Car: Year: 2007-2008 Prices from: £2,600-£4,800 Insurance group: 1
This may be the previous shape model, but the Clio Campus still looks sharp today. It's safe thanks to Renault's emphasis on Euro NCAP crash tests, and drives rather well too. There are a number of engine choices out there, but the 1.2 is the maximum if you're planning on getting group one insurance. Spacious, almost certainly reliable and decently equipped too, the Campus makes a good value first-time buy.
Car: Year: 2006-present Prices from: £3,000-£10,000 Insurance group: 1
An absolute mainstay among first-time owners, the Corsa is a fine, affordable choice. Plentiful too, with lots of choice on the used market. Forget anything more powerful than the 1.0-litre model if you want to be able to insure it. All versions provide peppy performance, while economy will be wallet and purse friendly too. As the Corsa is one of the newest cars on this list it's one of the safest.
Car: Year: 2008-present Prices from: £5,000-£10,000 Insurance group: 1
The Ford Fiesta is a great drive, and you get a slightly bigger engine than its obvious Vauxhall Corsa rival, even if the performance is almost identical. Like the Corsa you'll be limited to the entry-level model if you want the lowest insurance. The Fiesta is a great car, though being so new you'll need around £5,000 to buy a two-year old example.
Car: Year: 2006-present Prices from: £2,700-£8,600 Insurance group: 1
It might be a bit plain looking, but the Volkswagen Fox has the weight of that classy and desirable VW badge on its grille to give it credibility in the face of smarter styled rivals. The 1.2-litre engine is the only one that benefits from group one insurance, but it's a solid performer, both on the road and at the fuel pumps. The Fox is a fine first car purchase.
Car: Year: 2003-2009 Prices from: £1,500-£6,500 Insurance group: 1
The C2 replaced that other first car favourite in the Citroen line-up - the Saxo - and continues to offer much the same low running cost appeal. There's a lot of hard shiny plastic inside, but it's spacious for four - though the boot is tiny. Group one insurance is only available on the smallest 1.1-litre engine models, but it's a stylish, capable first car choice.