If you want a small but economical car, buying diesel is the way to go. They tend to cost more than their petrol equivalents but, if you do very high annual mileages, you’ll quickly make back the extra cost in fuel savings. There’s a range of great small diesel cars out there, so we’ve picked the 10 best small diesel cars currently on sale.
- Renault Clio
- Skoda Fabia
- VW Polo
- Dacia Sandero
- Peugeot 208
- Hyundai i20
- Mazda 2
- Fiat 500
- Audi A1
- Vauxhall Corsa
1. Renault Clio 1.5 dCi
The new Renault Clio is one of the most stylish and attractive small cars in the sector, with eye-catching styling and a well built interior. There’s plenty of room for four passengers and a 300-litre boot that’s among the largest in the class.
It’s what’s under the bonnet that really impresses, however. The 1.5-litre diesel engine returns a combined 88.3mpg and is available with Play and Dynamic Nav trims, costing from just more than £13,000. It’s an uncommonly punchy engine compared to rivals that compliments the car’s sharp handling.
2. Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI 75
The Skoda Fabia is one of the best value small cars on sale, with unrivalled space and practicality in its class. Inside, there’s a solid and well-equipped interior, with room for four people to sit comfortably and a very generous 330-litre boot. There’s a surprising amount of room for a car with such small exterior dimensions.
The smart looking Fabia is offered with the peppy 1.4-litre diesel engine shared with other VW Group models and costs from £13,925. Skoda claims fuel economy of 74.3mpg and the 75hp is more than enough for both urban or motorway driving. It’s not quite as fun to drive as others on this list but represents great value and admirably refined and comfortable.
3. VW Polo 1.4 TDI 75
The VW Polo is one of the best all-rounders in the small car market, with handsome looks, plenty of space and refined handling. Inside, there’s a typically sturdy and smart VW cabin and all trim levels come with generous amounts of equipment.
Considering its compact dimensions, there’s a good amount of room inside and a 280-litre boot. The 1.4-litre TDI engine is the same as the one used in the Fabia, with encouraging performance and a claimed 83.1mpg. The VW badge and plusher interior mean the Polo is a few grand more expensive than the closely related Fabia.
4. Dacia Sandero 1.5 dCi
The Dacia Sandero keeps things simple with tried-and-tested Renault-sourced parts and a very, very low price. There’s little standard equipment available on basic models and the car lacks the plush features of rivals. However, it remains a spacious, practical and excellent value small car.
The Sandero shares the 1.5-litre diesel engine with the Clio and other small cars across the Renault, Nissan and Dacia line-ups. It’s priced from just less than £9,000 and delivers an encouraging 80.7mpg. It’s relatively cheap to run and, with such a low price, the Sandero is a lot of car for the money.
5. Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi
The Peugeot 208 is a smart, attractive small car with a grown-up feel, good interior quality and plenty of standard equipment even on basic trim levels. It certainly gives the most popular cars in the supermini sector a run for their money and is pleasantly spacious with a 285-litre boot.
The 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine produces a hugely impressive 94.2mpg and emits just 79g/km of CO2, which means you don’t need to pay a yearly tax bill. It’s available on a number of 208 trim levels, with the cheapest Access A/C costing £14,515 – a little more expensive than rival cars, but it costs less to run with the efficient 1.6-litre BlueHDi engine.
6. Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi
The Hyundai i20 has sharp styling and a spacious interior for a car with such small exterior dimensions. The cabin feels solidly built and is packed full of equipment. It also comes with the Korean manufacturer’s commendable five-year warranty.
The 1.1-litre CRDi is the smallest diesel available with the i20. It returns an impressive 88.3mpg – considerably more than the larger diesel in the range, and the engine feels perfectly peppy with 75hp. A base price with the engine of £12,745 undercuts many of the i20’s competitors.
7. Mazda 2 1.5d
The Mazda 2 is a smart supermini with a great driving experience and striking kerb appeal. Inside, there’s a stylish dashboard and cabin, while equipment levels are on par with rivals. It can’t quite match them for boot space though, with 280 litres being a little on the small side.
But the most impressive part of the 2 is its handling. The car is poised and refined to drive, while the 1.5-litre diesel engine produces 74.3mpg and performs willingly. The lowest trim level it’s available on is the SE-L Nav, which is priced from £16,395.
8. Fiat 500 1.3 Multijet
The Fiat 500 is a cute and charming small car packed full of character, from its quirky exterior looks to striking dashboard design. It’s highly customisable too, meaning you can make the 500 your own – although this can get expensive if you tick to many boxes.
The Fiat isn’t the roomiest city car but you don’t buy the 500 for practicality. The 1.3-litre diesel offers up encouraging figures of 89g/km in CO2 and 83.1mpg, with perfectly respectable performance figures. It costs from £14,325.
9. Audi A1 1.6 TDI
The Audi A1 is the premium alternative to the closely related Polo, with a typically high-quality cabin and a sharp exterior design. It has a grown-up feel and comes with plenty of standard equipment, but it’s a little more expensive compared to similarly sized cars.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is a little punchier than the 1.4-litre unit in the Polo and Fabia featured on this list, producing 116hp and 97g/km of CO2, meaning it’s tax free. Combined fuel economy of 76.3mpg is encouraging but not class-leading. The 1.6-litre diesel costs from around £15,000.
10. Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI 95 ecoFLEX
The Vauxhall Corsa is another great all-rounder in the small car sector, with generous amounts of interior space, attractive looks and a range of cheap-to-run engines. It’s a well-equipped car in all trim levels and the 285-litre boot size is comparable to many of its rivals.
The 1.3-litre diesel engine comes in two power outputs, with the punchier 94hp model delivering better running costs thanks to not having to work as hard as the less powerful engine. It returns 85.6mpg and tax-free CO2 emissions of 87g/km. Prices for the cheapest trim available with the engine cost from around £15,000.
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