allyjs - was going to suggest any turbo-diesel hatch but the Fiesta 1.4 TDCI ain't about for less than 3k yet (real life 60 mpg, knocks spots off other cars up to 45 mph if there's only you aboard).
If you're a bloke under 21, you need a girl's name and address for named driver on your insurance, lots of companies offer this. Might be an extra driver but knock's £100's off total premium. My lads 'used' a girl from down the road, so to speak, she was the first girl they knew to get a full licence. She didn't get to drive their cars though.
Also, if you're good mates with a crowd, it's worth considering getting one of the girls in the crowd through her test early by the lads clubbing together for extra lessons for her.
For that money you can't go too far wrong really but take someone who knows a bit about motors to check for badly repaired crash damage etc. Otherwise, perfectly good runabout and spend your hard earned cash on something more interesting!
Steer clear of the GTi models for insurance reasons.
Cant knock them, cracking little car and very reliable. I've got one which is 13 years old and it's a good little runner. Put it this way, I'd have no hesitation in driving it over to Germany tomorrow.
An off the wall suggestion from a lady driver. How about a Smart car?
£40 road tax, cheap as chips insurance and 60 MPG. Mine has been de-restricted (a software upload) and is very nippy indeed. 700cc of mini-turbo power
Before anyone says they are no good on the motorwary - took mine from Manchester to Bruxelles last Autumn. Two up, enough lugggage for a 4 day round trip, performed very well on motorway and total fuel bill was less than 60 quid.
Depends how much money you have, you can get a Nissan Micra for under a grand, not much room inside, the 1.0 is hard to get up a hill, but very cheap to buy, and run, tons of spares around, lovely little automatics.
Or you could go for a Toyota Yaris, very reliable little car, cheap to run too.
The good thing about these cars is that their last owners were probably little old women, so they might smell a bit, but apart from that they will have a great, well documented history, the Yaris keeps it's value really well too. Take a look around you, tons of old model Micras, and Toyota's, that says it all.