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The top 10 best used small cars

Small used cars are ideal if you spend lots of time driving in town and want to keep your costs to a minimum. To help you find the ideal second-hand bargain, we’ve put together a list of the best used cars that are all less than three years old to suit a range of usages and budgets.

If nothing here takes your fancy, read our lists of the best used cars and the best small cars on sale for a selection of alternatives. And, if you’ve already chosen the perfect second-hand car, click ‘login’ in the top-right-hand corner to sign up and browse our extensive selection of pre-reg, ex-demo, nearly new and used cars.

[2018 update: The Audi A3 Sportback takes the top spot on our list, ahead of the VW Golf and super-compact Skoda Citigo. SUVs are represented by the Renault Captur in sixth while the Mini Convertible makes a case for affordable drop-tops in 10th.]

Here are the 10 best small used cars on sale:

1. Audi A3 Sportback

The Audi A3 Sportback is a practical family hatchback with a posh, upmarket cabin that comes packed with equipment as standard. There’s enough space in the back to carry two adults (or three kids) in reasonable comfort and you’ll have no trouble packing the A3’s square boot with lots of bulky luggage. You can get it with a wide range of engines too, from small petrols to suit inner-city trips to frugal diesels for long, cross-country jaunts.

The Audi’s optional sporty suspension means it isn’t quite as comfortable as some alternatives, however, and the optional automatic gearbox is a little jerky at parking speeds.

2. Skoda Citigo

The Skoda Citigo’s small size and frugal petrol engines make it an excellent city car. You’ll have no trouble manoeuvring into a tight parking space, but there’s still just enough space inside for four adults and a weekly shop. As an added bonus, the Citigo’s cabin feels impressively well-built for such a small car.

Unfortunately, the Skoda struggles slightly at motorway speeds and, unlike some tiny city cars, it doesn’t come with a central seat in the back.

3. Vauxhall Astra

Fancy something a little sportier than the Golf? The Vauxhall Astra could be right up your street. It’s more fun to drive, comes with a range of perky, yet frugal, engines and has just as much space inside for tall adults as its German alternative. Even entry-level models come with plenty of standard equipment, too – including smartphone mirroring features.

You don’t get quite as many soft materials in the Astra as in the Golf, however, and there isn’t as much space in the Vauxhall’s boot for carrying bulky luggage.

4. VW Golf

The VW Golf is an upmarket hatchback that feels much posher inside than most small family cars. You get plenty of efficient petrol and diesel engines to choose from (as well as a fully-electric model) and there’s even enough space in the back for tall adults to get comfortable on short journeys.

Unfortunately, the most affordable Golf models are a little plain inside and some alternative models have much larger boots. Despite this, the Golf still makes an excellent used car.

5. Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 is a small city car, but, unlike the Skoda Citigo, it comes with five seats, so it’s better for carrying passengers in the back. The Hyundai’s boot is a smidge roomier than in the Skoda’s, too, and the optional automatic gearbox is much smoother – handy when you’re stuck in stop-start traffic.

The Hyundai doesn’t feel quite as posh inside as the likes of the Skoda, however, and entry-level models don’t come with many creature comforts as standard. Avoid the sluggish 1.0-litre petrol models, however, and the i10 makes a great small car if you do lots of city driving.

6. Renault Captur

The Renault Captur is a compact SUV with a reasonably practical interior and a high-driving position that makes it fairly easy to manoeuvre around town. Even entry-level cars come with a decent amount of standard equipment and the Captur’s boot is easily big enough to swallow a big weekly shop or a few bulky suitcases.

Sadly, the Renault’s diesel engines are quite noisy when you accelerate, and – unlike some small SUVs – you can’t get the Captur with four-wheel drive. If you rarely venture off the beaten track, however, this shouldn’t put you off.

7. Vauxhall Corsa

The Vauxhall Corsa is a small, easy-to-drive, city car with a relatively well-built interior and a decent amount of standard equipment. The back seats are just about roomy enough for tall adults to sit comfortably and there’s space in the boot for a few large suitcases.

You don’t get quite as much high-tech safety kit as standard in the Corsa as you do in the likes of the VW Polo, and there’s only one diesel engine to choose from. Pick a petrol version, however, and it makes an excellent small car for nipping around town.

8. Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is a sporty family hatchback that’s comfortable to sit in and good fun to drive. Turn down a windy country road and it’ll certainly put a bigger smile on your face than the likes of the VW Golf. Inside, you’ll find a reasonably well-built cabin and enough space in the front for tall adults to stretch out.

Sadly, you can’t say the same for the Focus’ rather cramped back seats, and the boot is smaller than in most similar-sized hatchbacks. The infotainment system is fairly frustrating to use, too, but if you can live with that, the Focus makes an excellent second-hand buy.

9. Skoda Fabia

When it comes to practical small cars, the Skoda Fabia makes a good choice. There’s more space in its easy-to-load boot than in most other similar-size cars, and tall adults won’t have too much to complain about in the back seats either. It feels pretty solid inside, too, and you get a fair amount of equipment as standard across the range.

The entry-level petrol models feel very sluggish, though, and the Fabia’s slightly drab styling means it won’t exactly stand out in supermarket car park. The bulky front seats in Monte Carlo models limit knee room in the back, too, but stick to a less sporty Fabia and you can get a very practical small car at a very reasonable price.

10. MINI Convertible

If you aren’t too bothered about outright practicality and fancy something with a huge dollop of retro charm, why not check out the MINI Convertible. It comes with a super stylish cabin, a range of perky engines and plenty of equipment as standard. It’s even good fun to drive, so you’ll have a huge smile on your face every time you jump behind the wheel.

Sadly, it’s not all good news. The convertible’s boot is pretty tiny and the back seats are only big enough for kids to get comfortable – especially with the roof up. It still makes an excellent second-hand small car, however.

Save money on your next car

If you’ve decided which is the perfect used car for you, click ‘login’ in the top-right-hand corner to sign up and browse our extensive selection of pre-reg, ex-demo, nearly new and used cars. Still not sure what to buy? Read our list of the cheapest new cars currently on sale or our countdown of the best small cars available for a selection of alternatives.

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