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Driving for the first time in Singapore can be quite a daunting experience, but we all have to go through it. So what type of cars are the best for new drivers?

16 Sep 2022


You finally got your driver's licence and are excited to head out for the first time with your parents' car. But lo and behold, you drive out of the carpark and realise that the car is a tad too big for you to handle tight turns and narrow lanes as you try and lift your head higher than usual with your chin up to have a better view out.

Nothing to be ashamed about, really, because this is a common problem amongst new drivers. We were just like that once. So here is a list of 10 of the best cars for new drivers. They are small enough to be manageable on our roads and are good to drive, which is key in helping new drivers build confidence.

1. Audi A1 Sportback

The Audi A1 Sportback 1.0-litre is the one to have
If your pockets are deep enough and you feel like splurging on a premium car, you should consider the Audi A1 Sportback. Its compact dimensions, coupled with its punchy engine, make for a helluva fun drive. There is a choice of a 1.4-litre as well as a 1.0-litre engine on the used car market, but we'll highly recommend the latter. You'll save more at the pumps and the annual road tax is much more affordable.

Since you're already paying more for a premium car, try and save on the maintenance wherever possible. This will help you accumulate some cash for your next car when you're ready for an upgrade.

2. Honda Jazz/Fit

The Honda Jazz is reliable compact hatchback
Honda authorised dealer Kah Motors brings in the Honda Jazz, while the Fit is brought in by parallel importers. Although both cars are essentially the same, there are some features that may be missing from either, so you'll need to do some homework if you're keen on this compact hatchback.

Whichever you decide to choose, this Honda will undoubtedly be a good choice. It's reliable, perky, good-looking and easy on the wallet when it comes to maintenance. Depending on what you're after, there are a couple of engine choices - 1.5-litre as well as a 1.3-litre. We'd recommend the 1.5-litre variant, since it's punchier and the difference in road tax pricing isn't significant ($684 on the 1.5-litre vs $578 on the 1.3-litre).

3. Kia Picanto

It may be old, but the Kia Picanto is a good car for the new driver in Singapore
It's an old car, but old is definitely gold, at least for new drivers. The Kia Picanto here is a pint-sized car that's east to handle on the roads and it's certainly not hard to pilot. Plus, with its 1.1-litre powerplant, it's easy on the wallet when it comes to petrol, fuel consumption as well as general maintenance.

While it could be a tad squeezy due to its compact size, there's no ignoring the fact that the Kia Picanto is the perfect car for the new driver, be it whether you're the fairer sex or not.

4. MINI One 5-Door

The MINI One 5-Door is the perfect blend of fun and funky
Who doesn't love a MINI? We chose the 5-Door variant over the iconic three-door because of we understand the importance of practicality. Plus, you get a 278-litre boot space with the 5-Door, which is significantly bigger than the three-door model. Of course, should you decide on the three-door, it'll nonetheless remain to be a good choice for a new driver.

With the 1.5-litre engine, you get some 101bhp and 190Nm of torque thrusted to the front wheels. It may not be fast, but it's definitely fun, this car. Thanks to smooth and quick shifts from the seven-speed gearbox as well as marvellous body control, every corner is handled with aplomb, giving you the confidence to throw the car around with reckless abandon. Best of all, you'll only incur an annual road tax of $684!

5. Mitsubishi Attrage/Space Star

You can choose between the sedan or the hatch
If it's a sedan you prefer, then the Mitsubishi Attrage could be the answer for you. Thanks to its compact dimensions, zipping in and out of traffic and performing parallel parking around tight conditions is a walk in a park. Yet, despite its dimensions, it feels spacious inside, thanks to its long wheelbase of 2,550mm. You get a surprisingly generous amount of space in the back for three Asian adults with good leg and headroom.

And don't let the vast amount of plastics fool you. It's clean and unfussy and everything is well put together, giving the Attrage a vault-like and well-secured perception. If this sedan isn't for you, you could still opt for the Mitsubishi Space Star, which is the hatchback version of the Attrage.

6. Nissan Note

The Nissan Note is small on the outside but big on the inside
One of the most impressive cars for new drivers has to be the Nissan Note. Not only is it small on the outside, it's also massive on the inside, which makes it perfect for ferrying the family around without compromising on fuss-free motoring.

Equipped with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder supercharged powerplant that provides a modest 97bhp and 142Nm of torque, the Note will happily pot around town with ease and comfort. Hop onto the highways and it'll keep up with the pack eagerly and actively, if necessary.

7. Opel Adam

The Opel Adam is an appealing and quirky hatch
The only three-door option on our list is the Opel Adam. It's one eye-catching quirky mobile machine, this one. Not only is it easy to drive the Adam, it's also extremely fun and captivating to be at the helm of the car. Our favourite feature of the Adam has to be the peculiar styling details such as the 'Adam' badging that speaks to the car's inherent cool personality.

You get a naturally aspirated 1.4-litre engine that squeezes out 86bhp and 130Nm of torque. Figures here may be modest, but it feels eager and perky, and is certainly capable of performing overtaking manoeuvres as and when you need to. It's not perfect, the Adam, but its flaws undoubtedly add to the car's character.

8. Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift is effortless to pilot in Singapore
This compact hatchback is a handsome-looking car that's fun on the twisties and spacious for five occupants. As such, it's easy to see why the Suzuki Swift is one of the perfect cars for new drivers. The car now comes with a 1.2-litre four-pot mild hybrid engine that produces 82bhp and 107Nm of torque, assisted by an electric motor. Sure, it's no hot hatch, but the Swift manages to get off the line and up to highway speeds quite effortlessly. Plus, with the electric motor working to ease the engine load when accelerating, power delivery is surprisingly sprightly.

With the Suzuki Swift, new drivers will be able to gain experience and build their confidence on the roads without compromising on safety. The hatchback now comes with Suzuki Safety Support Suite, an active safety system that includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Dual Sensor Brake Support - a forward collision avoidance system with pre-emptive braking when a potential collision is detected.

9. Toyota Vios

New drivers have several compact sedan choices, but the Toyota Vios (left) is still the one to have
If the Mitsubishi Attrage isn't your cup of tea, you will do well to consider the Toyota Vios - another compact sedan that's suitable for new drivers in Singapore. Yes, there are other compact sedans such as the Honda City, Mazda2 Sedan and even the Nissan Almera you can choose from, but none of them comes close to the Vios' reliability, vault-like fit and finish as well as its simple good looks.

You may be a new driver, but you wouldn't want to be seen driving in a car that looks shabby now, do you? Plus, when it comes to driveability, the Toyota Vios does well to deliver power that's linear and smooth without affecting its efficiency.

10. Volkswagen Polo

The Volkwagen Polo remains to be a sound compact hatchback for new drivers
Last but not least, we have the Volkswagen Polo - a compact hatchback that's high on looks and comfort, and low on fuel consumption and overall maintenance. Fitted with a 1.0-litre powerplant that's good for 114bhp and 200Nm of torque, not only will you get a punchy experience, your annual road tax will only amount to $390. Plus, you can expect an excellent real-world fuel consumption of about 15km/L.

Not to mention, the compact dimensions of the Polo make it a cinch to pilot around tight corners and narrow straight roads, which makes it another perfect car for new drivers.


Want to know more about used cars that are suitable for you? Then check out these articles here

Used crossovers you can better afford today

Top eight best-looking SUVs you can buy now

Affordable used cars to consider buying today!

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