Compare the best reliable small cars

High quality reliable small cars from rated and reviewed dealers

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Rated 4.5/5 from 56,846 reviews
Last updated June 25, 2024 by Tom Wiltshire

Compare the most reliable small cars

Not much can ruin your day like a broken-down vehicle - and nothing's more frustrating than having a car that's so unreliable you don't trust it to get you anywhere.

With a classic car, breakdowns might be part of life - but chances are that in your daily driver, you want dependability. Nobody wants to be 'that person' who shows up late to everything because the car's broken down again.

Owning a small car doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice reliability, either - in fact, some of the cars on this list are among the most reliable on sale overall. Our expert road test team has come up with the best small cars that are reliable, based on criteria like MOT pass rates, overall industry protection and reliability surveys. We've also chosen ones that you won't hate to own - who wants a reliable car if you never want to drive it?

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

1. Toyota Yaris

8/10
Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
Kia Picanto
2024
Smart Spender Award
Highly Commended

2. Kia Picanto

7/10
Kia Picanto review
Honda Jazz

3. Honda Jazz

7/10
Honda Jazz review
Mazda MX-5

4. Mazda MX-5

9/10
Mazda MX-5 review

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Suzuki Swift

5. Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift review
Toyota Aygo X

6. Toyota Aygo X

7/10
Toyota Aygo X review
Mazda 2

7. Mazda 2

7/10
Mazda 2 review
Toyota Corolla

8. Toyota Corolla

8/10
Toyota Corolla review
Skoda Fabia

9. Skoda Fabia

9/10
Skoda Fabia review
Hyundai i20

10. Hyundai i20

7/10
Hyundai i20 review

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Advice about reliable small cars

Reliable small cars FAQs

There are a number of great small automatic cars on sale today, and thanks to modern technology not only are they refined and well-specced, but they’re reliable too. However, a lot do use really awful automatic gearboxes and should be avoided. We'd say the Toyota Yaris is a great choice, but if you'd prefer a more conventional auto than Toyota's CVT then take a look at the Skoda Fabia.

There are almost none on sale any more. The smallest cars you'll find with a diesel engine are around the size of the Volkswagen Golf - if you want anything smaller, you'll have to look on the used market. And you might have to look hard - not many small diesels were sold in the last few years, which is why they were drawn off sale.

Some of our favourites were the Citroen C3 diesel and Renault Clio diesel, though neither had a particularly sterling reputation for reliability.

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has regularly topped customer satisfaction surveys thanks to its fun driving characteristics, economical self-charging hybrid engine and legendary reliability.

The CVT automatic tends to hold onto the gears when pressing on, but its smooth and refined most of the time and it’ll deliver 69mpg in mixed driving and rather impressive 60mpg around town.

There are plenty of solid used cars for sale which have proven their reliability over years of hassle-free ownership.

The Honda Jazz, Toyota Aygo and Toyota Yaris regularly top owner satisfaction survey charts and either of these used small cars should provide years of reliable service at greatly reduced prices.