Last updated December 21, 2022
Aside from actually buying your car and keeping it filled with fuel, car insurance is likely to be one of the most expensive running costs. This is especially the case if you’re a young or inexperienced driver, live in a high-risk area or have any points on your licence, all of which are generally contributing factors to the cost of car insurance.
Whilst it isn’t reasonable to move home or change your age to reduce your car insurance premiums, there are methods you can use to try and cut your insurance costs. By choosing a car in insurance group 1, you may see a reduction in the overall price of your car insurance.
When a new car is released or a model is updated, it must be assessed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to decide what the insurance risk is. Many different factors are taken into consideration, as well as past statistics on how likely the car is to be stolen or involved in an accident.
Following this assessment, the panel, made up of the ABI alongside Thatcham Research and Lloyds Market Research, will decide which insurance group the car model falls into.
Groups are numbered from 1 to 50, with 1 being the lowest insurance risk and 50 the highest. The following factors are assessed by the panel to help decide what insurance group a new car should be placed in:
This is the lowest insurance group possible – cars in this category are deemed to have the lowest insurance risk.
Group 1 cars are often the cheapest to insure, however, insurance is based on more than just the car alone and you may find that your circumstances may even make a group 1 car expensive to drive.
Cars in group 1 are generally entry-level superminis or city cars with smaller engines. Popular small cars from major manufacturers tend to fare well when it comes to insurance grouping. This is because they benefit from a wide network of dealership support, meaning repairs are usually quick and cost-effective.
Most cars in this group tend to be used cars, but you can find some new cars in this group too. You should be careful to note specific trim levels of models you are interested in because this can change the group.
This is an incredibly common car that has been around for many years. During this time, the VW Polo has earned a reputation for sturdiness, comfort and dependability.
A Polo with this trim comes with 16” alloys, tinted rear windows and a leather steering wheel, meaning you get style as well as substance. Alongside this, it comes with a high-tech Beats audio system and an 8” touch screen, meaning you don’t have to compromise on extra features to get the low insurance group.
Polos are reputably spacious and even their least powerful trims still have everything you need for journeys around town and the occasional motorway journey.
This is another great option if you’re working on a budget but don’t want to compromise too much on space. Not only does it have five doors and five seats, but a larger than average 330-litre boot for its class. The exterior dimensions are average, but there’s an extra 90mm in its width meaning the car can be full without being uncomfortable.
Alongside space, this car brings you electric front windows, heated door mirrors, plus even the base model comes with Bluetooth and DAB radio as standard.
If you purchase this car new, you’ll find a range of personalisation options, including the Colour Concept system which offers 15 different body colour options with three choices for the wheels, roof and exterior mirrors.
The Smart ForFour is a compact car with a small engine that provides more than enough power for city driving. The engine itself sits in the rear between the back wheels, allowing the front wheels plenty of room to move, which makes it perfect for inner-city driving where space is limited.
Even at this lower trim level, you get 15” alloys, automatic climate control, Isofix child seat mounts in the rear and cruise control. Aside from this, there is a wide variety of styling and interior finishes, usually in a two-tone scheme inside and out, making it a stylish option if this is a trend you like.
Whilst this looks like a tiny car from the outside, it has a spacious, well-made interior with five seats. This makes it feel like a larger car when driving, despite it being able to nip into the smallest of parking spaces.
This is a more grown-up supermini, with excellent dynamics ensuring it’s stable and agile. The Hyundai i10 isn’t a particularly sporty car but it can take urban crawls and motorway trips in its stride. The engine is pleasantly hushed, despite the additional sound isolation materials and improved aerodynamics.
All i10s come with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty from new, so you may still be covered under the manufacturer warranty if you buy a used i10 which is less than five years old.
This is one of the more powerful cars on our list, so if you want decent performance without having high insurance costs, this could be a good option.
The Micra is a modern and stylish small car, with a bold face and sloping roofline making it stand out from the crowd. It has five doors, making it perfectly practical for family use and the amount of the space available is pleasantly surprising.
The interior is full of soft-touch materials, including a luxurious swathe of fabric or leather trim across the whole dash face. When buying a new Nissan Micra Acenta, there are plenty of opportunities to personalise the car to your tastes.
This Micra even offers a Bose stereo system, with speakers in the driver’s headrest for a surround sound effect. Aside from this, it comes with an infotainment touchscreen and wireless charging capability for your smartphone.
Where the Ford Ka+ excels in providing simple, hassle-free motoring at a cheap price. This is a great value car which costs less than most rivals and is a bargain to run.
The Ka+ doesn’t come with a slew of colourful personalisation options, but instead has a neat and tidy styling inside and out with plenty of standard kit. It’s also a bit bigger than its 1990s predecessor, with a pair of rear doors to allow better accessibility.
This entry-level car contains Bluetooth connectivity, a trip computer, speed limiter and hill start assist. So, if you need a basic car with decent fuel economy, the Ka+ may be the perfect vehicle for a tighter budget.
This is another car that combines city-friendly dimensions with ample interior space. Measuring at 3.6 metres long and a touch over 1.9 metres wide, the VW Up is one of the smaller cars on sale today. However, there’s still four seats and a good amount of boot space. Aside from this, it has a spread of cubbyholes up front and large door pockets.
This trim level has standard Bluetooth and USB phone connectivity, as well as sought-after air-conditioning and a high-quality Beats sound system with a 5” colour infotainment screen. This might be the perfect car for someone that wants both style and substance for a friendly price.
The Citroen C1 1.0i Vibe a car that isn’t too expensive to run and can achieve up to 62.8mpg. It comes with an extensive range of contrasting colour options, which continues to the interior giving the car a cheerful feel. Some new Citroen deals even come with a year’s free insurance, making them appeal to young drivers.
This entry-level trim is only available with three doors, but for a first-time driver this shouldn’t be an issue. With CO2 emissions at 108g/km, it can avoid some hefty charges in areas with low emission restrictions too.
Unfortunately, whilst the assessment process is standardised, providers can still vary on which cars they place in which insurance group. There isn’t a sure-fire way to guarantee that a particular car will be in the lowest insurance group because it all depends on how the provider considers the factors mentioned at the beginning of the guide.
You also shouldn’t guess if a car we haven’t mentioned is in a specific insurance group based on the factors we have given. Not all cars are grouped as you might expect. Smaller cars with different trim levels may be in a higher group than you anticipate. For example, a Fiat 500 1.2 Pop 2d is in group 9, which may not be as low as you might assume.
Group 1 cars are usually great options for younger drivers, for more reasons than just cheaper insurance.
Firstly, you can generally find a great selection of used options making them cheap to buy. However, if you do decide to buy used, make sure that the older cars have the necessary safety and security features to be deemed a low-risk model.
On top of that, many of the cars in this group are excellent for young drivers as they are usually smaller models which offer good fuel efficiency. Anyone looking for a budget-friendly first car should look for a used car in the group 1 category.