Best small cars and superminis

Last updated: Dec 9, 2014

The best small cars currently on sale offer more than just cheap running costs, small dimensions and stylish looks. The latest crop now boast quiet engines and improved practicality, wrapped up in a fun-to-drive package that also makes them easy to park and simple to drive around town.

 

There's plenty to choose from, with almost every manufacturer offering a small hatchback to compete with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Kia Rio. However, if you’re not a fan of those, there are plenty of other brilliant superminis worth their weight in gold. Below, we’ve rounded up our top 10 from Skoda to Suzuki, and everything in between.

Volkswagen Polo hatchback

The Volkswagen Polo has been around for nearly four decades – and for good reason. It may be one of the more expensive cars on our list, but the high quality interior, grown-up driving experience and comfortable ride make it one of the best, too. It’ll hold its value better than near enough every car in our top 10, and if you go for one of the frugal BlueMotion models, should cost just pennies to run. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£11,250 - £19,865

Ford Fiesta hatchback

The Ford Fiesta sums up the supermini class. It’s everything a small car should be, combining stylish good looks, cheap running costs and a fun driving experience, while offering a decent level of standard equipment, room for four and a reasonable-sized boot. It’s easy to drive around town, yet won’t feel out of depth on a busy motorway. It’s a perfect first car too, thanks to the inclusion of Ford MyKey, allowing parents to set the car’s maximum speed and stereo volume to reduce the risk of accident. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£10,145 - £18,145

Kia Rio hatchback

The Kia Rio is arguably the best value car on this list. It’s cheaper to buy than the Volkswagen Polo, yet packs way more standard equipment – and even comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. Reliability is good, economy is excellent and if you go for one of the fuel-sipping diesels, you’ll pay no road tax either. That said, the Ford Fiesta is still the one to beat for driving fun. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£10,095 - £16,695

MINI hatchback

The MINI (in one form or another) has actually been on sale even longer than the VW Polo. Nowadays, however, the brand is owned by BMW, and from the inside it’s clear to see. Thanks its high quality materials, comfortable driving position and high-tech user interface, the MINI feels just as grown up as the Volkswagen. It’s loads of fun to drive, and while it might be more expensive to buy than a lot of the cars on this list, it’s surprisingly cheap to run. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£13,750 - £21,070

Peugeot 208 hatchback

The stylish Peugeot 208 features a wide range of economical petrol and diesel engines to choose from, with the top-of-the-range Peugeot 208 GTI challenging the Ford Fiesta ST for driving fun. There’s enough room for two adults in the back of the spacious 208, but up front a clumsy dashboard design disappoints, with the small steering wheel obscuring the driver’s view of the dials. Read more.

Key points

3.8 / 5
Price 
£10,195 - £18,745

SEAT Ibiza hatchback

The SEAT Ibiza is starting to show its age, but that’s not a reason to discount it in light of newer rivals. It’s stylish, cheap to run, and if you go for one of the turbocharged petrol engines, feels brisk and fun to drive, too. The Volkswagen Polo feels like a higher quality product, and the Skoda Fabia is slightly better value, but there’s no denying the Ibiza is still a beautifully rounded small car. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£11,410 - £17,635

Renault Clio hatchback

Clever styling makes the current Renault Clio look like a three-door car, when in fact, all models boast five-door practicality. The rear door handle is hidden high in the door frame, giving it a sleek look that even the most style-conscious buyers will struggle to turn their noses up at. There’s a decent-sized boot, and thanks to some big car features, it’s much more comfortable and quiet on the motorway than ever before. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£10,995 - £17,895

Suzuki Swift hatchback

The Suzuki Swift is a great, but little known supermini that offers an interesting alternative to more mainstream alternatives on this list. It’s fun to drive, great to look at and full of standard equipment. There’s a small boot and the interior is noisy at motorway speeds, but for a great value and nippy small car, it’s certainly worth considering. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£10,799 - £16,439

New Hyundai i20

The second-generation Hyundai i20 boast more attractive styling than ever. It's also got the largest boot of any car of its type and Hyundai claims it has the most interior space of any supermini. That's quite a list of superlatives, but it doesn't end there - it's the only supermini to feature a panoramic glass roof on the range-topping model - and there's a five year warranty too. But it's not all as good as it could be, because only one engine emits less than 100g/km for free road tax and none of the engines feel particularly powerful. Read more.

Key points

3.5 / 5
Price 
£11,445 - £16,725

Citroën DS3 hatchback

The Citroen DS3 was the first stylish DS model, and it's still the most popular by some margin. It's fun to drive and has some very efficient engines in the range - some capable of covering up to 79mpg. And despite its advancing years, it's still an extremely attractive car. That's helped by the way the roof appears to 'float' on top of the windows, and the fact it's a three-door only model. But although it looks all the better for the lack of rear doors, it limits practicality significantly. Read more.

Key points

3.4 / 5
Price 
£12,865 - £23,220

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