If you only have a small parking space and fancy a quirky small car to fill it, then you’ll want to look at the Suzuki Ignis, Citroen C3 and Nissan Micra. They’ve all got pros and cons, but which is best? Our expert reviewer Mat Watson is on hand to split these superminis.
The Suzuki Ignis is the least expensive car here, with prices ranging from £10,999 for the entry-level SZ3 to just under £15,000 for the top-spec car. It’s the also the smallest car of the three, which makes the bigger Citroen C3 look like a bargain because it’s only £556 more than the Suzuki for the entry-level car – rising to £18,045 for the range-topping version. The cheapest Nissan Micra starts at a smidge under £12,000, but if you fancy one with all the bells and whistles it’ll set you back £21,490.
But buy through carwow and you can get a lot of money knocked off the RRP. At the time of writing you can save an average of £919 on the Suzuki, £1,977 on the Citroen and a hefty £3,663 on the Nissan.
You can’t accuse any of these cars of looking boring. The Ignis has chunky love-it-or-hate-it toy-car looks – it looks like a shrunken SUV with the flared wheel arches, high ground clearance and fake vents at the back that pay homage to the 1980s Suzuki Whizzkid.
If you prefer your small car to look less aggressive, the C3 might take your fancy. It looks quirky and eye-catching, and stands out in a car park full of Ford Fiestas and Vauxhall Corsas – especially with the protective rubber Airbumps that ward off car-park bumps from the bottoms of the doors. It’s also worth noting that the Citroen has lots of personalisation options.
The previous Micra was anonymous and blobby. It certainly couldn’t compete with other cars in the looks department, but the new car is much sharper, cooler and edgier. It stands out and looks sporty thanks to a grille similar to the one you’ll find on the banzai GT-R sports car.
Small cars with small pricetags tend to have cheap-feeling interiors, but some of this trio feel surprisingly good. Sadly the Ignis doesn’t – and its interior could definitely do with some extra money being spent on it. The two-tone design helps, but the cabin feels very cheap and it’s not helped by the aftermarket Pioneer infotainment system that’s stuck on the dash – it may be a touchscreen but it has tiny buttons and dated graphics. That said, the Ignis does feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can mirror your smartphone instead.
The C3’s interior is much better in comparison – the satellite navigation system is easy to use and the infotainment works well, although to change the temperature you have to navigate the menus on the infotainment screen – there aren’t any physical dials or buttons for the temperature controls, which is a bit annoying. Physical dials or buttons would make the C3’s cabin even better, especially as the seats are big, comfy and inviting.
Out of these three cars, the Micra has the best-feeling interior by a stretch. The infotainment system is much nicer to use than in the Citroen and Suzuki. It’s quite fast to switch between menus, it’s simple to operate and the whole cabin feels the poshest and best-built. It has more technology than the other two cars as well – you can add a reversing camera or even speakers in the seat headrests. That said, it’s still beaten overall by the new SEAT Ibiza.
For something so small, the Ignis does quite well for head and knee room in the back. Top-spec models even allow your rear passengers to recline the seats for a bit of extra space. However, the Ignis’ narrow body means there’s not enough room for three people in the back.
The C3 is noticeably larger, but even so there’s not much space in the back for adults. Headroom suffers if you spec the optional sunroof and it doesn’t have much room for your passengers’ knees.
You do get enough legroom in the back of the Micra, but the seats are small and, as with many cars this size, it’s a squeeze for three people to sit abreast. There’s not a lot of headroom either, and it’s a shame that not even the top-spec Micra has electric rear windows – they’re available on all but the entry-level C3 and the Ignis SZ5.
If you’re after a small practical car, then the Ignis isn’t the best bet. The only drinks holders are in the doors and glovebox, and the narrow rear door openings make fitting child seats a challenge. There are some features such as tethering hooks in the boot, but it’s a lot smaller than the other cars here. Spec a four-wheel-drive model and you’ll have a boot that’s even smaller.
At first the Citroen doesn’t seem very practical either. The glovebox is tiny and mostly taken up by the fuse box. The cupholders are shallow too, but the C3 redeems itself with huge door bins, handy shelves on the dashboard and one of the largest boots in a car of this size. It’s a square shape and has tethering points so your shopping remains intact on the drive home from the supermarket.
The Micra is best for front storage space, with large door compartments and a phone holder as standard. However, you don’t get the same treatment in the Nissan’s back seats – the rear doors don’t have any storage space incorporated into them. The boot is much bigger than the Ignis but smaller than the C3, and it goes without tethering points or any other clever features such as dividers or 12V sockets.
The Ignis’ high seats give you a great view out, and the light controls make it easy to drive around town. Sadly it’s best kept within city limits – head out of town and you’ll find that the suspension is bouncy and the car leans a lot in the corners, while the steering feels vague and it never feels particularly quick. The 1.2-litre petrol is perfectly adequate, but the absence of any diesel engines and minimal sound insulation mean it’s noisy on the motorway.
The C3 also leans quite a bit in corners and the manual gearbox is a bit vague to use, but it majors on comfort. It feels like a sofa compared to the Ignis’ pogo-stick setup. The 1.6-litre diesel engine feels quick and is really economical. Citroen’s 1.2-litre petrol is also smooth and quick enough.
Unlike the old car, the new Micra is genuinely impressive and easily the best to drive of these three. Punchy diesels mean motorway driving is easy and relaxing. It can’t match the economy of the C3 and the Micra is the only car here that goes without an automatic gearbox option, but does offer automatic emergency braking to keep you out of the boot of the car in front.
All three of these cars have their merits. If you’re after a small, cheap car that’s good on practicality then check the Ignis out. If you want something cool and comfy then the Citroen is the best bet. The Micra is the best all-rounder though – thanks to a well-built cabin, good safety kit and a better driving experience than the other two.