Best small cars and superminis

Last updated: Jan 7, 2016

Small cars and superminis are still big business for car makers. Figures from the SMMT (Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders) prove that superminis still make up a massive percentage of UK car sales. That's why the competition between small hatchbacks is so fierce - buyers are looking for low running costs, eye catching looks and "big-car refinement" in a small package. They also have to practical, good to drive and easy to park in order to make our list.

That criteria is a lot to ask for a small car, but the ever improving supermini class means that there are some real gems out there.

Big names in this class include the best-selling Ford Fiesta, along with the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo. That said, almost every mainstream manufacturer has a small hatchback in their range, which is why it was so hard to compile our top 10 list.

For our favourite small cars, read on.

Volkswagen Polo hatchback

The Volkswagen Polo is probably one of the oldest names in the book in this class. It has a great reputation for being solidly built and reliable, but it does come at a slight premium compared to some rivals. What you do get is a very classy cabin, a smooth driving experience and a comfortable ride. It keeps a tight hold of its value on the used market too, and the BlueMotion model has impressive running costs. The Polo GTI version is a very sober hot hatchback option, but pretty quick for the car's compact size. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£11,525 - £20,140

Mazda2 hatchback

The Mazda2's sharp styling and swooping lines makes for an impressively desirable hatchback. Those fashionable looks pair well with impressive fuel economy and low running costs - if you go for the most economical diesel, it will be capable of up to 83.1mpg and no road tax. The Mazda2 is also one of the best handling small hatchbacks in its class, rivalling the Ford Fiesta for driving fun. The interior is a great place to sit in, too, but we've had the odd issue with the car's glitchy satellite navigation system on test. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£11,995 - £17,395

Ford Fiesta hatchback

It's not hard to see why the Ford Fiesta has been the UK's number one best selling car for so long - it ticks all the boxes necessary to be a great supermini. It has sharp styling, low running costs and is pretty practical inside. It's also an ideal first car - the Ford MyKey feature lets parents set a maximum speed and stereo volume to ensure safer driving for young and inexperienced drivers. What impresses most is how the Fiesta handles - along with feeling at home in a busy town centre or motorway cruise, it's a very entertaining car to drive when you feel like a B-road blast. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£10,245 - £18,495

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback

The latest generation of the Vauxhall Corsa is a significant improvement over its predecessor. Interior quality has taken a massive leap forward and the clever IntelliLink infotainment system is a doddle to use. There may be a bewildering amount of trim options to choose from, but the engine range is full of winners; the cracking 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol is a peach, while the 1.3-litre diesel can return a very impressive claimed 88mpg. It's not as fun to drive as the Fiesta, but it delivers better value for money. Read more.

Key points

4 / 5
Price 
£9,595 - £17,825

Skoda Fabia hatchback

The Skoda is a blend of the Polo's dependability and the Corsa's value for money. It may not be as cheap as it used to be, but the sharper design and lower purchase price than the Polo might make some buyers think twice. The Fabia also uses the same engines as the Polo, so you get strong and efficient ones, whether you go for a petrol or a diesel. The amount of standard equipment is impressive, too, and the amount of space it offers makes it one of the best in class for practicality. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£10,750 - £18,025

MINI hatchback

The MINI brand may have moved on from the original we all know, but the latest MINI still offers some of that versions' character and charm. Thanks to a chassis from BMW, the MINI is one of the better hatchbacks to own in terms of handling prowess. The interior is still funky, but it's well built and easy to use. Like the Polo, it's one of the more expensive cars on this list, but it holds a lot of its value on the used market and owners enjoy low running costs. It's not the most practical of hatchbacks, though. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£14,075 - £21,400

Peugeot 208 hatchback

The latest Peugeot 208 is chic and very stylish - as you'd expect from a French brand. However, it has a sensitive side - the 208 can be fitted with one of the most economical combustion engines money can buy, according to claimed figures of 94.2mpg and CO2 emissions of just 79g/km. Petrolheads will be drawn to the Peugeot 208 GTI hot hatch, but whichever version you choose, the 208 is easy to drive and practical. However, the awkward dashboard design disappoints - the touchscreen is clunky to operate and the dials are obscured by the steering wheel, depending on how tall you are. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£12,065 - £18,615

Citroen DS3 hatchback

The DS brand is an offshoot of Citroen, and the DS 3 was previously known as the Citroen DS3. It's by far the most popular model in the luxury brand's line-up, thanks to low running costs and remarkably planted handling. The biggest draw is the car's design; like the Fiat 500, which was released at a similar time, the DS 3's styling still looks sharp after several years on the market. It is only a three-door car, though, so there are more practical cars on sale. Read more.

Key points

4 / 5
Price 
£13,995 - £25,495

Renault Clio hatchback

Clever design means the Renault Clio still looks like a sleek three-door car, while keeping the practicality that comes with a five-door layout. The boot is generous, the dashboard is stylish and the Clio's ride is very comfortable. A strong range of efficient engines only adds to the appeal, and all Renault models come with a four-year/100,000 mile warranty as standard. However, the Renault doesn’t hold its value on the second-hand market as well as the likes of the VW Polo or MINI. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£11,145 - £18,275

Suzuki Swift hatchback

The Suzuki Swift might be one of the curveball options in the supermini market, but it certainly shouldn't be overlooked. It's great fun to drive, well equipped and sharply styled, making for a pretty impressive package. The boot and back seats aren't quite as spacious as some rivals, and the Swift can get quite loud on a motorway, but the perky Swift offers great value for money for what it offers buyers. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£8,999 - £14,199