So, you’ve got the grades you need and you’re heading off to the big smoke to start a new chapter of your life, as a student. Making the transition to student living can be a tricky but incredibly exciting one, and there’s a whole new list of products you once took for granted that are suddenly prime bargaining tools; milk, bread, toilet paper and beers (cold or otherwise!) are all valuable commodities...but none are more in demand than the humble used car

Having a used car whilst at university is akin to having found the Holy Grail. You’ll give yourself the freedom to explore your new location and really make the most of your time at university. Many students’ main regret whilst at university is not getting more involved in the local activities available, and failing to make the most of the city in which they lived. 

Need to go food shopping? Having a car means you won’t have to endure the misery of catching the bus to get your big shop (tins of beans are heavy!) and you can also solidify friendships by inviting others along too. Such things as day trips out with friends and transporting large pieces of furniture you need to make your room look a little more homely, are all made much easier by having a trusty steed. What's more, mum and dad will be over the moon that you are able to get home independently and finally their taxi service can cease trading. 

But which used car do you choose? What is really important to a student? You don’t know what your needs are because you haven’t started uni yet. Read on to find out our advice on all things student cars. 

As with buying any car, you need to set a budget. From there you can start to work out what your priorities are. As a young person, your insurance is going to be the largest barrier to getting you on the road, so you need to consider the insurance group of any vehicle. Yes, you might be able to afford the upfront cost of the Golf 1.9 TDI, but your insurance quote will be astronomical and that money could be spent on much more fun once term starts. 

The next thing to consider are the running costs of the vehicle. You’ll need to look at the fuel economy (how many miles you get out of each gallon of petrol,) how much parts cost for your car and what the average servicing costs are. 

Motor Range’s Top Considerations for Student Cars

  • Your budget
  • Insurance group
  • Cost of fuel per 100 miles
  • Maintenance and servicing costs
  • NCAP safety rating
  • Top speed 
  • Tax band 

More anecdotal things to consider from a student car are things like how it is going to fit into your new student life. Do you want to buy a brand new car that you feel duty bound to keep pristine? You’re going to live in halls or in shared accommodation.

Cleaning your car yourself could prove very difficult because of the location of the parking compared to the location of your home, you’d rather spend your money on essentials rather than valeting (trust us!) and with you bundling your friends in and out of it, it will get messy! For this reason, amongst others, we recommend you buy a used car. 

Other factors to consider are the size of the vehicle and whether it has 3 or 5 doors. Depending on your tenancy terms you may have to empty your rooms more than once a year. That means transporting all your worldly goods back home and then back to uni again once term starts. This is a total pain in the backside, but can be made much less uncomfortable if you can fit it all in one load.

The misery, not to mention the cost, of driving back to get the rest of your stuff is intolerable and dad won’t be thrilled if you draft him in as the second vehicle. A good sized car, with 5 doors increases your independence and makes uni life just a bit easier.

Check out our list of the top 5 cars for university students below. Remember, everyone’s priorities are different, we have tried to give you an honest overview of what you might need to consider, but make sure you get the right car for your circumstances...and keep your eye on the insurance group.

Top 5 Cars For Students

5. Renault Clio

With a good amount of space inside and a range of mod cons, the Clio is a good choice for students. Good fuel economy, nippy enough but watch out for the insurance group on certain models. 

Fuel cost: £7-13 per 100 miles

Top speed: 104 miles per hour

Minimum insurance group: 7

4. Volkswagen Polo

Still enough space inside, very attractive night time dash lights and solid German engineering. Slightly more expensive parts, but with Volkwagen’s reputation, you’re still getting good value for money. 

Fuel cost: £7-10 per 100 miles

Top speed: 100 miles per hour

Minimum insurance group: 4

3. Ford Fiesta

A solid student choice. Looks sporty enough, has a low insurance group and plenty of space inside. Cheaper parts, cheaper servicing and, all around, very economical. We can’t help but love the Fiesta: it’s a great choice for students. 

Fuel cost: £7-12

Top speed: 99 miles per hour

Minimum insurance group: 3

2. Vauxhall Corsa

There’s really not much between the Corsa and the Fiesta: it depends on your preference. We’d say there is slightly less room in the Corsa but, with a lower insurance group and slightly better fuel economy, it might be the car for you.

Fuel cost: £8-11 per 100 miles

Top speed: 101 miles per hour

Minimum insurance group: 2

1. Volkswagen Up

In terms of running cost this is probably the cheapest of the lot, even when you factor in the slightly more expensive parts, it’s still a great option. Falling into the lowest insurance group possible, with good fuel economy and a nippy appearance, it’s a great student car!

The only issue you might have is with it’s size. It all depends on what you need, but we think the Up a good cheap choice for the price conscious student. 

Fuel costs: £8-10 per 100 miles

Top speed: 99 miles per hour

Minimum insurance group: 1

Enjoy yourselves...and stay safe!

All fuel costs quoted as of August 2015.