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Young Londoners spend the most on their first set of wheels

28 November 2017

New drivers spend an average of £3,005 on their first car but young London drivers spend £1000 more on average than those in the rest of the country

The average amount of money spent on buying a new driver’s first car is now £3,005, according to research* from GoCompare Car Insurance. However, the study also revealed big regional differences in what new drivers spend on their first set of wheels.

It seems that houses aren’t the only thing Londoners pay more for. New drivers from the capital are the biggest spenders, splashing out an average of £4,163 for their first car, whilst new drivers in Wales paid the least, spending an average of £2,310. With the second highest spenders, from the East Midlands, paying on average £3,109, it means that new drivers in London spend a third more for their first cars than those from anywhere else in the country.

 Region Average spend on young drivers first car
 London £4,162
 East Midlands £3,109
 East of England £3,092
 West Midlands £3,091
 North West


 South West £2,979

 Northern Ireland

 Scotland £2,863
 South East £2,861
 North East £2,842
 Yorkshire & The Humber £2,787
 Wales £2,310

What to buy?

A search of the What Car? Classifieds found that for under the £3,005 average, new drivers could buy a variety of cars, suitable for first time drivers. These included;

  • A 2007, Renault Clio 1.2, Rip Curl with 45,000 miles on the clock for £2,891
  • A 2008 Ford Ka with 50,000 miles on the clock for £1,995
  • A 2010 Vauxhall Corsa with 63,000 miles on the clock for £2,491

However, buying a car is one thing, running it is another. Considering the insurance costs of the cars available, some are more affordable than others. We found the following cheapest quotes for an 18 year old driver paying a £400.00 total combined compulsory and voluntary excess and driving up to 7000 miles a year. All of the cheapest premiums returned were for ‘telematics’ policies.

In London:

  • A 2007, Renault Clio 1.2  – Annual premium of £1521.05
  • A 2008 Ford Ka - Annual premium of £1345.12

In Wales:

  • A 2007, Renault Clio 1.2  – Annual premium of £1460.10
  • A 2008 Ford Ka - Annual premium of £1299.24

Matt Oliver, car insurance spokesperson for GoCompare said: “Buying your first car can be very exciting, but the shine can quickly wear off if you struggle to meet the costs of ownership. Car insurance is usually the highest cost aside from the cost of the car itself and in some cases the first annual premiums young drivers pay can be more than the value of the car.

“Unfortunately, young drivers face some of the highest premiums, and while things like choosing a car with a smaller engines can make a big difference in the cost of insurance, it’s very unlikely that a 17 year old will receive quotes that are less than £1,000.

“That said there are legitimate ways new drivers can help reduce their premiums. For instance, all of the cheapest premiums returned in the comparison of insurance policies for these cars were ‘telematics’ policies. As well as frequently being cheaper from the outset, ‘black box’ policies can also potentially accelerate premiums to fall faster than with a traditional policy, if the driver demonstrates that they are safe behind the wheel.”

GoCompare has produced a guide to learner and new drivers' car insurance and a checklist to help younger drivers keep their premiums down:

Choose a sensible car - Young drivers’ insurance premiums will be lower if they drive a standard car with a small engine (under 1000cc) in a low insurance group. It may not be a supercar but it makes sense to drive something smaller and slower until they’ve built up some no claims bonus and have shown a safe driving record. Also, avoid cars with modifications, as they can push the price of insurance up.

Consider opting for a higher excess – This may lower your premium but you will need to decide if paying a slightly lower premium is worth the risk of having to contribute more towards the cost of a claim if you have an accident.

Thought about a ‘telematics’ policy? – Some policies require your car to be fitted with a ‘black box’ transmitter and others do a similar job with a smart phone app. In both cases the idea is that your driving is monitored by the insurer and your premiums can come down faster than with a traditional policy if you prove to be a safe driver.

Added extras – consider whether you really need added extras such as a courtesy car, legal assistance, breakdown cover and key cover. Some policies include these types of cover as standard or as add-ons but they’re not free – the cost will be built into the premium so you may be able to save money by removing them or choosing a different policy without all the whistles and bells.

Adding a safe driver – Adding another named driver with a clean licence and several years claim free driving to a young driver’s policy could reduce their premium. This is one way a parent can help their child to get lower premiums without breaking the law.

Drive safely – By being careful on the road you will avoid accidents, fines and penalty points, all of which will affect your insurance premium.

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