Sometimes the best things come in small packages. We’ve picked the best small cars from five compact categories to help you choose the best one, whatever your needs.
Check out the amazing savings carwow can offer using our car deals page. For a raised driving position, view our list of the best small SUVs and crossovers. If you cover high mileages, have a look at the best small diesel cars. Alternatively, view our list of the best small automatic cars and cars for less than £100 per month.
The VW Up is a stylish and surprisingly spacious city car that offers buyers a slice of luxury for not much money. There’s enough room for four adults, and the 251-litre boot is much larger than you’d expect for a car this size. You also get the kind of high quality finish that you’ll find in larger VW models. The Up is priced from £8,995, although it’s possible to end up spending a lot more on flashier versions.
A recent facelift has added a few improvements to the way that the Up looks while, inside, you’ll now find a docking station for your smartphone on most models. You can now also get the Up with a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine for truly sprightly performance while still being able to return 60mpg.
Hyundai’s i10 is one of our favourite city cars thanks to its excellent comfort and ride quality. It looks pretty smart – especially with the LED running lights of posher trim levels – but it’s inside where the i10 really shines. Unlike many city cars, you can actually fit five people in the i10, and the 252-litre boot just edges out the Up’s already impressive load bay.
Hyundai has also been very generous when it comes to standard equipment – Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port are standard while upgrading to top-spec trim adds climate control and heated seats. An upcoming facelift will bring the likes of Apple CarPlay and automatic city braking and you’ll also benefit from Hyundai’s excellent five-year warranty.
The Skoda Fabia is a great all-round supermini with loads of space and a well built cabin. It may not have the flashy badge or sleek styling of some rivals, but the Fabia beats them all in terms of value for money. It’s easily one of the biggest superminis inside and, in terms of quality and layout, there’s not much to separate it from the more expensive VW Polo.
Running costs should be modest, aided by a range of economical diesel and petrol engines – the thriftiest can manage nearly 80mpg. Factor in strong resale values and generous standard equipment, and you have a supermini with bags of appeal.
The Mazda 2 is one of the most appealing superminis on sale with an excellent driving experience and stylish cabin. Bold styling means it stands out more than most rivals with a look that mirrors the larger 3 family hatchback – this isn’t a car that will get lost in the sea of cars outside your local supermarket.
Its handsome cabin takes inspiration from premium manufacturers and, while quality isn’t as high, the cheap plastics are reserved for places you won’t ever really touch. The Mazda may look a little expensive compared to some rivals, but it’s generously equipped and cheap to run so, in the long term, represents good value for money.
Based on the top selling Ford Fiesta, the B-Max shares many of its smaller brother’s strengths in a package that’s a lot more practical. The main attraction for most buyers will be the unique pillar-less design and sliding rear doors making it incredibly easy to access the rear seats. Putting a child in a car seat is a lot more convenient than in a crossover or 4×4, especially in tight parking spaces.
Elsewhere, the 318-litre boot falls a little shy of rivals such as the Vauxhall Meriva and Hyundai ix20 but, instead, you’ll find that the Ford counters with a fun driving experience taken straight from the Fiesta. Engines are also generally cheap to run, but you’ll need to avoid basic trim levels to even moderate levels of equipment.
The Honda Jazz blurs the line between supermini and mini-MPV and arguably offers the best of both worlds. It’s hardly a stunner but it looks a lot more attractive than many dumpy mini-MPVs by avoiding a top-heavy appearance. The Jazz is also very easy to drive, meaning it’ll squeeze neatly into parking spaces and narrow gaps in traffic – all this while still offering a huge amount of interior space.
There’s ample space for five adults to travel in comfort and rear legroom rivals that in some larger saloon cars. Open up the boot and there’s 354 litres of space, with 1,314 litres freed up when you fold the rear seats flat – they also flip up for taller loads. Equipment levels are impressive and you’ll benefit from Honda’s outstanding reliability record, giving you peace of mind.
The Audi Q2 latest 4×4 has all the desirability of its larger models, but in a package that’s no bigger than most hatchbacks. It offers chunky styling, a premium badge and mild off-roading abilities if you choose one of the quattro all-wheel drive models. Go for one in top S-Line trim and it’s among the most distinctive small SUVs on sale.
Inside, there’s a typically high-quality interior, similar to the one you’ll find in the latest A3 hatchback. Spend enough money and you’ll get loads of fancy equipment such as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dials. The Q2 is priced from just more than £20,000 and, unless you need all-wheel drive or cover very high mileages, we’d recommend one of the nifty turbocharged petrol versions.
Fiat Panda 4×4
If you’re after a more serious small off-roader, you should check out the Fiat Panda 4×4. Despite being based on the standard Panda, it offers impressive off-roading abilities in a small package at a low price. The four-wheel-drive system offers superb grip in tricky weather conditions along with much lower running costs than larger rivals with similar abilities – both engine options should return around 60mpg.
Five people should just about be able to squeeze into the Panda, and there’s a 225-litre boot in the back – enough for the weekly shop. You also get a good amount of equipment as standard, and a funky cabin design to match the Fiat’s squared-off interior. It’s not the cheapest small 4×4 out there, but it’s definitely one of the most capable and is always able to put a smile on your face.
The Dacia Sandero is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK and is a great value choice for families on a budget. Costing from just £5,995, it’s cheaper than most city cars, yet offers space for five people and 320 litres of luggage space. You don’t get much equipment in the basic model but, if you spend a little more, you’ll get the basics such as Bluetooth connectivity and a touchscreen infotainment system.
The Dacia is cheap to run too, with even petrol models achieving around 50mpg. The basic 1.2-litre petrol can be a little slow, but the more economical 0.9-litre turbo has more than enough power for overtaking. Drivers who cover longer distances might want to check out diesel-engined models with fuel economy rated at nearly 75mpg.
The Suzuki Baleno is another impressively spacious small car, offering low running costs and plenty of kit for not much money. It’s not the most stylish family car but, in the right colour with some alloy wheels, it actually looks rather smart. Of course you won’t care about what it looks like once you’re inside, and there’s loads of space for occupants – the 355-litre boot is bigger than you’ll find in some larger and more expensive rivals.
Suzuki has also given the Baleno lots of tech and safety kit to give it some extra appeal – even basic models get a seven-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, a reversing camera and a DAB digital radio, but stepping up to the higher of the two trim levels means you also get climate control and automatic city braking. It’s very cheap to run – the standard 1.0-litre petrol engine is nippy and returns 63mpg while the 1.2-litre returns 71mpg thanks to its mild hybrid system.
Check out our Suzuki Baleno deals page to find out the latest savings.
Save money on your next car
Check out carwow’s great savings using our car deals page. Head over to our car chooser tool for help picking your next car or put it in our PCP calculator to get an idea of how much it could cost per month.