Being on a tight student budget doesn’t exclude you from the car market by any stretch.

While there’s plenty of used cars available to buy, there’s also a decent range of new and almost new cars available on student budgets too. And as new cars tend to come with warranties and better safety standards, they can make a tempting prospect.

We’ve pulled together some of the best new cars students can afford. Not only do they come with an affordable sticker-price, they also occupy the lower insurance groups and offer a high-value, low-cost drive – keeping their running costs down too.

Jump to:
Cheap student cars
Student cars with space for friends
Student cars with space for stuff
Environmentally friendly student cars
Stylish student cars
Student driving tips
Cheap cars for students
Looking for a car that’s super cheap to buy, cheap to run and cheap to insure? Here are our top picks for cars students on the tightest budgets should be able to afford.
Dacia Sandero
Dacia are a brand known for their affordable cars, and the latest Sandero is no exception. A reasonable hatchback at a more than reasonable price, it’s a roomy car that gets the job done.

Why is the Dacia Sandero great for students?

The Dacia Sandero is far more spacious than similarly priced city cars (we gave it 5/5 for practicality), but the main selling point is the price. It’s the UK’s cheapest car, and Dacia also offer a comprehensive three-year warranty – which should comfortably see you through the bulk of your course.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Dacia Sandero for sale here.
Suzuki Celerio
When it comes to value for money, Suzuki Celerio is a pretty safe bet. Suzuki have a strong reliability record, and this entry-level model doesn’t skimp on any of the key features.

Why is the Suzuki Celerio great for students?

The Suzuki Celerio gives you plenty of space and a decent level of standard equipment (including remote locking and air-conditioning) for the price you’ll be paying.

The Celerio’s running costs are low too. The standard engine has CO2 emissions of 99g/km (which means you’ll pay lower tax bills), while the cleaner engines in the range offer almost 80mpg (which means lower fuel costs) and 84g/km in CO2.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Suzuki Celerio for sale here.
Student cars with space for friends
Picture a student car and you’re probably picturing passengers squashed in on the back seat and making do for a short trip, but that doesn’t have to be the case. These cars give you plenty of space for your budget.
Skoda Scala
The Skoda Scala is a reasonably stylish hatchback that comes with practical interior space, plus plenty of equipment and safety features as standard.

Why is the Skoda Scala great for students?

As with most Skodas, you’re getting a lot of car for your money. The Scala in particular offers loads of headroom and legroom in the back, and there’s a wide middle seat so you shouldn’t have too much trouble carrying three on the backseat.

The Scala’s pretty efficient too, meaning your day-to-day running costs should be low while your resale value could be a pleasant surprise if you look after your car properly.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Skoda Scala for sale here.
Dacia Duster
The Dacia Duster is a mid-sized SUV available for the price of a low-end city car. As an SUV, it ticks enough boxes – especially for the price you’re paying.

Why is the Dacia Duster great for students?

With the Dacia Duster, you’re getting a lot of SUV space for very small amount of money. Further to that, it should also prove cheaper to service, maintain and insure than direct competitors.

The Duster’s not bad looking either, with bold details, clear lines and a matte finish to the interior plastics. For better equipment and features, you’re best to look at higher trim levels like ‘Essential’ or ‘Comfort’.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Dacia Duster for sale here.
Student cars with space for all your stuff
Whether you need to fit all the contents of your student flat in the back of your car, cart instruments around or just need a lot of luggage for your weekends away – these cars should suit your needs.
Skoda Fabia Estate
The Skoda Fabia we picked is an estate car that’s practical, comfortable and good value for money.

Why is the Skoda Fabia Estate great for students?

The Skoda Fabia Estate is packed with safety features, including six airbags as standard, and Skoda are known for producing reliable cars so you should be confident behind the wheel.

In terms of space, the Fabia is the only one of its direct rivals available as an estate – so it comes with the biggest boot you’ll get for this price. If you regularly have a car full of passengers or stuff, consider the zingier 110-horsepower engine.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Skoda Fabia Estate for sale.
Dacia Logan MCV
Another roomy Dacia for a low price, the Logan MCV (which stands for ‘maximum capacity vehicle’) offers a wealth of practical space.

Why is the Dacia Logan MCV great for students?

The Dacia Logan MCV offers enough room for a couple of six-foot adults in the front and, thanks to the high roofline, in the back too. There’s also a massive boot – 573 litres as standard, which expands to 1,518 litres with the rear seats folded down. Bar a few niggles, it’s pretty easy to load the boot – and at this price you won’t be as worried about a few bumps and scrapes.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Dacia Logan MCV for sale today.
Environmentally friendly student cars
The choice of electric and hybrid cars has massively increased over the past few years, and that trend will continue as the technology develops and refines. Here’s some good entry points.
The MG ZS EV is an electric SUV that stands out thanks to its affordability. As a start in the EV market, it comes with a big enough range and enough extra features to justify a look.

Why is the MG ZS EV great for students?

The MG ZS EV is an affordable way to get into electric vehicles, offering you an emission-free SUV for the price of an entry-level Nissan Leaf. And as it’s emission-free, you won’t have to pay any car tax either.

It’s got a clean overall look, plenty of interior space and an easily accessible boot. Both trims available (called ‘Excite’ and ‘Exclusive’) come with bonus features like keyless entry and Apple CarPlay, making it a pleasant overall experience.

Read the full review.
Find used and new MG ZS available today.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
The Toyota Yaris is a driver-friendly and affordable hatchback that comes with a strong reliability record. As a hybrid, the Yaris is one of the cheapest on the market too.

Why is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid great for students?

A hybrid might better suit if you don’t want to go full electric, or you want the reassurance of being able to fill up at a fuel station on your travels. It’s not emissions-free, but it does have low CO2 emissions so your tax and running costs should stay down.

The Yaris itself is safe and reliable car, packed with equipment and, like others on this list, comes with enough practical space for a range of uses.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Toyota Yaris available today.
Stylish cars for students
Buying a car is a balancing act between affordability and getting something you really like being behind the wheel of. With that in mind, here’s some of the more stylish cars available on small budgets.
Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 is a funky little city car that’s reasonably cheap to buy and has competitive running costs. It’s easy enough to drive and should make a chic student run-around.

Why is the Fiat 500 great for students?

The Fiat 500 has a retro charm that’s made it one of the more popular cars in the UK. For those who want to stand out, there’s a number of high-value special editions available too.

If you’re on a tight budget, the ‘Pop’ trim should suffice, but opting for ‘Pop Star’ (the next one up) gives you air-con and alloy wheels. If you’ve cash to splash, ‘Lounge’ is the top-level trim with a fixed sunroof and touch-screen system.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Fiat 500 available today.
Citroen C3
The Citroen C3 is standout in the supermini class thanks to some of the funky French looks Citroen trade on.

Why is the Citroen C3 great for students?

As mentioned above, the Citroen C3 is a head-turning car thanks to the unusual details and lines in its bodywork. These, paired with charming interiors, help the C3 make a strong impact in a crowded market.

Looks aside, the C3 is a solid enough car for the price. As a student car, it hits the right notes in terms of reliability, equipment included and cost. And above all, it’s pretty likeable.

Read the full review.
Find used and new Citroen C3 available today.
Top tips for student drivers
Car insurance

If you’re taking a car with you to university, then don’t forget to change the address on your car insurance. This could be the address of your student halls or shared house or flat. If you don’t change the address, you could invalidate any claims.

Driving to university

If you can, it’d be well worth practicing the route to uni before moving day. This’ll give you a chance to explore the roads without the stress of moving day.

While you’re there, you could also practice the routes to and from campus, and any other trips you’ll likely be taking (nearby shops, gyms etc.) so you’re familiar with the road systems.


Check whether there’s any parking space available before you go. If you’re in halls, you might be able to get parking permit from the university. If it’s a house-share with a drive, you might have to draw up a parking rota (unless you’re lucky enough to be the only driver in the house).

If neither of those are applicable, you’ll have to master the parallel park and find on-street parking spaces. You can try Google Maps to find suitable streets, but make sure you’re following the rules of the road (not parking on a bend, at a bus stop, near a school entrance etc.).