Compare the safest small cars

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Last updated May 24, 2024 by Tom Wiltshire

Best safe small cars of 2024

Small cars offer low up-front and running costs, but you don't want to feel like you've compromised on safety by going small. With these cars you don't have to - our expert reviews team has looked at Euro NCAP crash test ratings and pulled together a list of the safest small cars you can buy in 2024.

Most of the cars in this list have scored the full five-star rating, which takes into account the safety of adults and children in the event of a crash, how the car deals with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, and what driver assistance technology is available.

These aren't necessarily the best small cars you can buy, but they're certainly the safest.

Smart #1
Urban Living Award
Highly Commended

1. Smart #1

Smart #1 review
Battery range up to 273 miles
Volkswagen Polo

2. Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo review
BYD Dolphin
Smart Spender Award
Highly Commended

3. BYD Dolphin

BYD Dolphin review
Battery range up to 265 miles

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GWM Ora Ora 03

4. Ora 03

GWM Ora Ora 03 review
Battery range up to 261 miles
Renault Clio

5. Renault Clio

Renault Clio review
Toyota Yaris Cross
Urban Living Award
Highly Commended

6. Toyota Yaris Cross

Toyota Yaris Cross review
Toyota Yaris Hybrid

7. Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
SEAT Arona

8. SEAT Arona

SEAT Arona review
Urban Living Award
Highly Commended

9. MG4

MG MG4 EV review
Battery range up to 323 miles
Hyundai Kona

10. Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona review

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Advice about safe small cars

Safest small cars FAQs

Absolutely. While a larger car arguably has a better chance of absorbing an impact with more ease than a smaller one, the way cars are designed with load paths and safety cages surrounding the passenger compartment means that small cars can entirely step up to the plate. Put it this way, the safest car that Euro NCAP has ever tested is the Volvo XC60, with a 98 per cent adult occupant protection score. A Volkswagen Polo, almost literally half the XC90’s size, scores 94 per cent on the same test, and Euro NCAP doesn't make allowances for size of vehicle in its results.

Even the cheapest small cars now come with at least front driver and passenger airbags, front side airbags, and a curtain airbag for side impacts. All will have anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and traction control. Autonomous emergency braking — where the car uses cameras and sensors to detect a likely collision and can slam on the brakes itself to prevent or mitigate the crash — is also now standard, although the cheaper models will come with a simpler, less effective system than higher-spec cars. Many small cars now have standard-fit adaptive cruise control and electronic speed limiters

While the answer has for some time been the Volkswagen Polo, with honourable mentions to the Renault Clio in particular, in 2022 the Smart #1 launched into the UK market with a pretty spectacular 96% adult occupant protection score, and 89% for child occupant protection, propelling it straight to the top of the class.