Best cars

Top 10 best used small cars 2022

Looking for a small, sensible secondhand buy? We name 10 of the best small used cars

Ford Fiesta Mk7

Small cars, such as hatchbacks and city cars, are often a great choice for motorists in the UK. They’re easy to park and manoeuvre, and usually offer enough space for four people and their luggage. Thanks to the popularity of this type of car, there’s plenty of choice on the second-hand market, with many used small cars available for very little money.

Gone are the days where buying a small car meant sacrificing comfort and quality. The modern small car needs to be economical, safe, comfortable and capable on the occasional long journey. They also need to have features such as sat nav, smartphone connectivity and air conditioning. Thankfully, the cars on this list meet these criteria with ease.

Small cars aren't just limited to diminutive models like the Kia Picanto and Toyota Aygo, either. Nowadays, nearly every manufacturer offers a model that occupies this category, ranging from superminis like the Renault Clio and Audi A1, to small SUVs such as the Ford Puma and Nissan Juke.

Most small cars are powered by smaller efficient petrol engines, meaning they excel in low running costs and low purchase prices, and that’s even more relevant for used buyers. You might be surprised at what you can get for a relatively modest amount, especially as cars registered a year or two ago have already suffered most of the depreciation they’ll incur. If you’re thinking of buying a used small car, you should be able to get low-mileage cars that are in nearly-new condition. If you are on a tighter budget, you can still find a surprising amount of great cars for under £5,000, especially if you are happy with a slightly older car or higher mileages.

When choosing from the best used small cars, there are certain factors to take into account that are less relevant to new car buyers. Cars on the second-hand market may be getting near the end of their manufacturer warranties, so you’ll probably want a car that has a reputation for and a history of good reliability. Check out our guide to the most reliable small cars on sale if that’s a top priority.

You'll find many of the cars in our list for sale among the Approved Used programmes offered by their respective dealers, and they're all popular choices for independent used car dealers to keep in stock as well.

Continue reading for our rundown of the best second-hand small cars. Once you’re done, why not check out our guides to the best cars with cheap insurance and best used electric cars?

Ford Fiesta hatchback review

Facelifted Ford Fiesta driving
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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The Ford Fiesta has been a popular pick with UK drivers for decades and the latest model excels in almost every department. It’s well-equipped, great to drive, spacious, stylish and reliable, and it’s rightfully the default choice in the small hatch class. The Fiesta is an ideal car for first-time drivers, older people and everyone in-between.

Now that the latest generation Fiesta has been on sale for a few years, you can pick up a Zetec model with sat nav (an optional extra), Apple CarPlay and cruise control for almost half the price of a current entry-level model. You can enjoy a multi-award winning car, and get a great deal seeing as you won’t suffer the heavy initial depreciation. With the biggest network of dealerships in the UK and cheap servicing, the Fiesta makes a great used buy.

See the latest prices for used Ford Fiesta models on our sister site Buyacar.

Skoda Fabia hatchback review (2015-2021)

Skoda Fabia Best Buy cutout
Carbuyer rating

3.9 out of 5

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The Skoda Fabia received a minor facelift in 2019, so the pre-facelift model is still our recommendation. There are plenty of low-mileage, good-condition examples in the classifieds, and they tend to be quite a bit cheaper than a brand new one. Even the base ‘S’ model features Bluetooth and DAB radio, while the SE trim level adds upgrades like alloy wheels and cruise control.

The Fabia is essentially a Volkswagen Polo underneath, so it benefits from VW’s build quality and reliability. It's cheap to run too, with a good offering of both petrol and diesel engines and a slick DSG automatic gearbox available too. Both the hatchback and estate versions offer excellent practicality as well.

See the latest prices for used Skoda Fabia models on our sister site Buyacar.

Volkswagen up! hatchback review

Orange Volkswagen up!
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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As is common with city cars, the Volkswagen up! is one of three near-identical triplets, sharing parts and bodywork with the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii - although the VW is now the only one of the three still available with a petrol engine. There's precious little to choose between the three on the used market – the VW arguably has the most upmarket image and offers a more powerful engine, but all offer excellent value for money as a second-hand buy.

Whichever you choose, though, it comes highly recommended for its style, practicality and driver appeal, although it's worth bearing in mind that all three are strict four-seaters. Volkswagen Group doesn't offer the most generous warranty in the business, but all three cars have all proven reliable since their 2011 debut. They’re simple cars without much to go wrong.

See the latest prices for used Volkswagen up! models on our sister site Buyacar.

SEAT Ibiza hatchback review

SEAT Ibiza hatchback
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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The SEAT Ibiza combines some Spanish flair with the sturdy underpinnings of the Volkswagen Polo, and offers quite a lot of equipment and space - especially on the used market. The SE Technology includes must-have kit like DAB radio and air con, plus niceties like sat nav and metallic paint. FR trim adds sporty looks, while Xcellence brings even more kit such as keyless entry and adaptive cruise control.

The boot is among the biggest in the class at 355 litres (just 25 litres short of bigger cars like the VW Golf), while the big-selling 1.0-litre engine is peppy and economical. We’d recommend going for the turbocharged 94bhp or 113bhp versions because the 79bhp MPI engine can feel underpowered. SEAT Approved cars come with extra peace of mind thanks to 12 months’ warranty and roadside assistance.

See the latest prices for used SEAT Ibiza models on our sister site Buyacar.

Kia Rio hatchback review

Kia Rio hatchback
Carbuyer rating

3.9 out of 5

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As a used buy, the Kia Rio offers peace of mind thanks to its seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. It's also a frequent high-scorer in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, receiving high praise from owners for its reliability and low running costs.

The Rio's styling might not catch the eye, but it's smart and up-to-date, and quite fetching in bright colours. The subtle looks conceal a spacious interior with a big boot, and standard equipment is generous across the range. We recommend the 99bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine, which can return around 50mpg. As it’s nippy enough for driving in town, and the six-speed manual gearbox makes it more refined on long journeys.

See the latest prices for used Kia Rio models on our sister site Buyacar.

MINI hatchback review

2021 MINI hatchback driving
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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The MINI is one of the most fun-to-drive small cars on sale, even if you go for the entry-level One model. You could almost think of it as a cut-price sports car and, just like sports cars, it prioritises driving fun and a pleasing interior over practicality. Five-door models are available and are better if you’re regularly going to be carrying passengers in the rear seats, and the boot is still big enough for a shopping trip or a couple of suitcases.

There are plenty available for about half the price of a new model, with peppy petrol or diesel engines, and all come with front fog lights, heated mirrors, Bluetooth and DAB radio. MINIs use the same underpinnings as some BMWs, and the MINI hatchback is definitely more of an upmarket proposition compared to the Fiesta and Fabia.

See the latest prices for used MINI hatchback models on our sister site Buyacar.

Renault Captur SUV review

Best Small Family Car: Renault Captur
Carbuyer rating

4.3 out of 5

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If you want a small SUV that’s capable of handling the day-to-day family duties, the Renault Captur delivers excellent value as a used buy. It boasts a well-equipped and high-quality interior, and thanks to the sliding rear bench and 536-litre boot, it’s practical too.

We’d recommend the mid-range Iconic trim, as it features a long list of standard equipment including a digital instrument cluster, a seven-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. There's an excellent choice of petrol and diesel engines, and a range-topping E-Tech plug-in hybrid. Our pick is the 140bhp 1.3-litre petrol, as it's affordable to buy used and offers decent performance with low running costs.

See the latest prices for used Renault Captur models on our sister site Buyacar.

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback review

Vauxhall Corsa
Carbuyer rating

3.5 out of 5

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The Vauxhall Corsa had a surge of popularity in 2021, becoming the UK’s best-selling car of the year, beating the Ford Fiesta. Power comes from a range of punchy three-cylinder petrol engines, and there’s a fully-electric Corsa-e model that can manage over 200 miles of range.

The popularity of the Corsas means there are plenty of used models available. Every model is well-equipped with air conditioning, a 7-inch touchscreen, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and alloy wheels. The SRi Edition trim is our pick of the range, adding sportier styling, a contrasting black roof, heated sports seats and electronic climate control.

See the latest prices for used Vauxhall Corsa models on our sister site Buyacar.

Hyundai i10 hatchback review

Hyundai i10 driving
Carbuyer rating

4 out of 5

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It sounds a little dull to cite a car's warranty as its most attractive feature, but similar to the Kia Rio, the Hyundai i10's five-year/unlimited-mileage policy is too impressive to ignore. The rest of the car isn't too shoddy, either. It's not the most glamorous city car you can buy, but has developed its own identity in recent years and could almost be described as sporty-looking. It's no dull soul to drive, either, with a peppy feel from its free-revving petrol engines and slick manual gearbox.

It's also a genuine five-seater, with four side doors and seatbelts for five, although taller rear-seat adults might find long journeys a little taxing. The Hyundai badge might not get neighbours' curtains twitching with admiration, but that helps to keep used i10 prices low, which makes it fantastic value for money.

See the latest prices for used Hyundai i10 models on our sister site Buyacar.

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review

Citroen C3 Aircross SUV
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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If you’re looking for a small car that’s comfortable as well as spacious, the Citroen C3 Aircross SUV should be high on your shopping list. While it's quirky styling and signature ‘air bumps’ may not be to some people’s taste, the C3 Aircross’ sumptuous driving experience will appeal to many. Boot space is good too: 410-litres when the rear seats are reclined and a cavernous 520-litres with them slid all the way forward.

Citroen gave the C3 Aircross a mid-life update in 2021 which included updated styling, extra cushioning for the already comfortable seats and retractable blinds for the rear seat windows. Yet, whether you go for a pre or post facelift model, we recommend opting for a car with the 109bhp 1.2-litre PureTech 110 engine. This should provide plenty of power, even when the car is fully laden with people and luggage. There is a more-powerful 129bhp unit on offer, however this seems a bit overkill given the Aircross’ relaxed nature and will return fewer MPG.

See the latest prices for used Citroen C3 Aircross models on our sister site Buyacar.

Thinking of treating yourself to something new? Check out our list of the top 10 best small cars and superminis

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