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Best Small Car 2024

The Abarth 500e is a small EV with plenty of punch, and makes for a fantastic city car

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Despite the ever-increasing numbers of crossovers and SUVs, small hatchbacks still make up a large chunk of new car sales in the UK.

However, small cars are gradually disappearing from new car showrooms. The best-known example is the Ford Fiesta, which ended production this year. And not many new models are coming along to replace those that have been discontinued.

It was a very quiet year for small cars, with only the Abarth 500e, BYD Dolphin and GWM Ora Funky Cat (soon to be re-named the GWM Ora 03) arriving in the last 12 months. There was also the Mazda 2 Hybrid, but that’s literally a rebadged Toyota Yaris so it’s not surprising that almost no-one noticed.

Next year should see improvement, however. We know that there’ll be a new Citroën C3, a new Mini hatch (now formally known as the Mini Cooper, which is what most people have always called it anyway) and a new Suzuki Swift. We’re also expecting to see a new Renault 5, and there may also be a new Renault Twingo, too. Fiat is due to release a new Panda next summer, but we’ll have to wait and see whether it reaches the UK in time for next year’s awards.

Our awards recognise both the best new models to have been launched over the last 12 months, but also the best overall cars in each category – because newest doesn’t always mean best, as you can see below.

Best new small car: Abarth 500e (70%)

Many people thought that electric cars might be the end of Abarth, but the new 500e has proved the doubters well and truly wrong. Like its petrol predecessors, the Abarth 500e takes the fine starting point of a Fiat 500 and transforms it into a real pocket rocket that’s fun to drive and full of character – just as you’d expect from any car wearing the scorpion badge. 

But the all-electric Abarth 500e also brings new sophistication and day-to-day ease of use, making it far easier to live with on those days when you just need to get from A to B. Who said electric cars were all boring?

Class champion, petrol/diesel: Skoda Fabia (76%)

Skoda Fabia | Expert Rating

The Skoda Fabia does exactly what you’d expect a Skoda to do – deliver great value for money in a largely unassuming package. Unlike the Abarth, no-one’s likely to be captivated by the Fabia’s anonymous styling. But if you’re looking for a supermini-sized car that gives you maximum bang for your buck, you can’t go past the Fabia.

The Fabia just edges the recently-discontinued Volkswagen up by less than 0.2%, according to our Expert Rating Index.

Class champion, electric: Peugeot e-208 (73%)

Peugeot e-208 (2020 onwards) - Expert Rating

A facelift in 2023 has boosted the Peugeot e-208’s rating in recent months. The updated cars are just starting to reach the UK as these words are written.

With refreshed styling and upgraded interior equipment, the revised e-208 is a bit sharper to look at and spend time in, helped by improved battery technology that pushes range out to nearly 250 miles on official lab tests. Mechanically, it’s still identical to the (also recently updated) Vauxhall Corsa, but the Peugeot rates more highly with reviewers.

The Car Expert Awards 2024– all the category winners

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