How much can you to pay for your first car including running costs (car insurance, road tax, gasoline and servicing)? With that in mind you can then consider what type of car you want your first car to be. Research is an important part of the process - specialized magazines to find reviews and prices for all types and models of cars. When you come to negotiate the purchase of your first car such information will prove vital.
BUDGET: Budgetary constraints may render you unable to get the car that you really want, however buy the best you can afford. Every year of development in automotive is a step up in safety; crumple zones, standard fitment of safety features all improve with every new model.
SHOP AROUND: Shop around for insurance quotes, visit a number of difference comparison websites. The JD Power Satisfaction Survey compares different models in terms of reliability, dealer experience and so on. A small engine is wise for insurance reasons and fuel consumption.