Best small cars and superminis

Last updated: Dec 13, 2013

The best small cars you can buy all combine economy, practicality and affordability – many of the best-selling cars in the UK fall into this category. They’re often very stylish and fun to drive, as well as being easy to park – making them popular with many types of buyer.

The best small car for us is the Ford Fiesta – and it's currently the UK's best-selling car. It has superb handling, great looks and lots of equipment for a low price – and it appeals to so many people. For those looking for something a little more classy, this list includes the Volkswagen Polo and Audi A1, which are a bit more expensive but offer high levels of comfort and quality interiors. For value, however, there's also the Kia Rio and Hyundai i20.

If you’re after a small car or supermini, look no further than our comprehensive top 10.

Ford Fiesta hatchback

The Ford Fiesta mixes style, practicality and efficiency with a really fun driving experience, meaning we named it as the Best Small Car 2013. Its Aston Matrin-style front grille looks great and gives the car a distinctive look, and a five-star NCAP safety rating plus a wide range of engines also help it to the top of this list. The most efficient engine returns 85mpg and emits only 87g/km of CO2, so it’s really cheap to run, too. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,995 - £17,995

Kia Rio hatchback

The Kia Rio’s attractive styling is matched by an even more attractive seven-year warranty. The Rio is well made too, which means reliability is a really strong point for the little Kia. It’s decent on the motorway, but it a bit let down by not being much fun to drive. However its 1.1-litre diesel gets CO2 emissions of just 85g/km, which means it’s really cheap to run – especially as low insurance costs will mean young drivers can afford one, too. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£9,995 - £16,595

Volkswagen Polo hatchback

Thanks to a range of economical and strong engines, a classy interior and high build quality the Volkswagen Polo will appeal to buyers looking for something a little more up-market. Clearly, with all this extra quality on board, the VW Polo is a bit more expensive than its rivals on this list, but it’s definitely still a good-value car considering the quality on offer. Plus, 81mpg fuel economy from the greenest engine in the range means it won’t be expensive to run. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£11,100 - £19,715

Renault Clio hatchback

The Renault Clio is economical and good to drive, and also offers five-door practicality. It might not look like it has five doors from the outside, because the clever hidden door handles give the Clio a sleeker three-door look. The inside of the car gets a seven-inch touchscreen display and loads of personalisation options, including numerous colour schemes. The Clio isn’t as fun to drive as something like the Ford Fiesta, but it is still nippy and good around town. A 1.5-litre diesel engine keeps it cheap to run by returning 83.1mpg, and the car scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. Read more.

Key points

3.9 / 5
Price 
£10,795 - £17,595

Hyundai i20 hatchback

With its sharp handling and range of small engines the Hyundai i20 is a great car for city driving. Its has a bigger boot than the Ford Fiesta, and the 1.1-litre diesel can get 88.3mpg – though we don’t recommend small diesels for short trips only. The i20 is great value, with plenty of standard equipment – you’ll save about £1,000 over a Fiesta with the same equipment. There’s air-conditioning, six airbags, electric windows and an MP3-compatible stereo all standard on the i10, but if you prefer to spend a bit more, the top-spec model gets 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and a leather steering wheel. Read more.

Key points

3.9 / 5
Price 
£10,095 - £14,445

Peugeot 208 hatchback

With plenty of standard equipment and stylish looks, the new Peugeot 208 is worth a look if you’re after a new small car. It’s cheap to run, too – with a diesel engine the car can return over 74mpg. That’s not as good as some rivals but it’s still objectively a very efficient car. However the 1.2-litre petrol engine is faster and yet still manages a decent 62.7mpg. It’s not as fun to drive as some of its rivals, and some of the engines are a bit slow, but the 208 is still a solid choice in this segment. Read more.

Key points

3.8 / 5
Price 
£9,995 - £18,495

Suzuki Swift hatchback

You might not have considered the humble Suzuki Swift before seeing it on this list, but it’s just as capable as some bigger names and is really affordable, too. The engines available are economical and nippy around town, even if there’s not as much choice compared to rivals from Ford or VW. The steering is accurate and the car is grippy in corners, so it’s fun to drive – but it doesn’t really suit motorway trips, unfortunately. The Swift is a bit down on boot space, but its’ still great value and should be pretty reliable, too. Read more.

Key points

3.8 / 5
Price 
£10,799 - £14,949

Audi A1 hatchback

The Audi A1 might be small, but it still feels like any other Audi when you get inside. The interior’s comfort, luxury and build quality equal that of some more expensive models, but it’s all packed into a small car. There’s a range of excellent engines, and the A1 is as good on the motorway as it is on any other road – but the ride is a bit bumpy thanks to stiff suspension. You get lots of equipment, but the high list price puts the A1 behind some of its small car rivals. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£14,115 - £24,900

MINI hatchback (2006-2014)

With a wide range of customisation options and an up-market image, the MINI has become a very common sight on UK roads. The MINI is cheap to run, too, emissions of less than 100g/km of CO2 from the diesel models’ green engines. It’s fun to drive, but the stiff suspension can mean it gets a bit uncomfortable after a while. Thanks to the car’s enduring popularity in the UK, resale values are high, but if you’re getting one new be prepared to pay much more than other rivals for the same equipment. Read more.

Key points

3.5 / 5

Dacia Sandero hatchback

If affordability is high up on your list of priorities when it comes to buying a car, then look no further than the Dacia Sandero. With a starting price of just £5,995, it’s the cheapest new car available in the UK. It’s a similar size to a Volkswagen Polo but costs considerably less than a Volkswagen up!. Entry-level models have next to no equipment – lacking a stereo, air-con or even electric windows – but top spec models come with a decent array of kit and are still much cheaper than the entry-level versions of the Sandero’s main rivals. The Dacia hatchback is also comfortable, spacious and cheap to run. Read more.

Key points

3.4 / 5
Price 
£5,995 - £9,795

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