Ford Fiesta hatchback

£10,145 - £18,145

Despite its advancing years, the current Ford Fiesta is still the biggest-selling car in Britain. It's also our favourite small car thanks to its smart looks, comfortable interior and fun-to-drive character.

That's not to say it's perfect – rivals such as the Nissan Note and Kia Rio offer more interior space – but none of these models can match the Ford's combination of talents. And the lack of a sixth gear on most versions means that the Fiesta gets a bit noisy on the motorway.

Nevertheless, the Fiesta is a fine small-car choice. It's also practical, well equipped and represents decent value for money.

Key to the Fiesta's appeal is its entertaining driving experience and a range of excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines, which mix decent acceleration with excellent fuel economy. Buyers covering high annual mileages should consider one of the frugal 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engines. You should steer clear of the most basic 1.0 and 1.25-litre petrol engines and the 1.5-litre diesel, however.

There are a range of different trim levels to choose from: Studio, Style, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X – and three of these are available with fuel-saving ECOnetic packs. At the top of the range are the sporty Fiesta Red and Fiesta Black Editions, as well as the rapid Ford Fiesta ST sporty hatchback, itself available in three specifications. All models get essential equipment such as air-conditioning, stability control, electric windows and a USB connection. We’d recommend the Zetec, as it strikes the best balance between price and equipment, including Ford's clever SYNC Bluetooth system, alloy wheels and Ford's excellent heated windscreen.

The Fiesta is a safe car, too, despite its small dimensions. It was awarded a full five-star Euro NCAP rating, thanks to the inclusion of stability control and six airbags across the range. Models fitted with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine can also be specified with Active City Stop at an additional cost. This automatically stops the car if it senses an imminent low-speed collision.

Find out what we think is the best small car by watching our video below.