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Expert Ratings

Best small cars

The definitive ranking of the best and worst small cars on sale in the UK

This is the definitive ranking of the best and worst small cars on sale in the UK.

How can we make such a bold claim? Because this list isn’t just based on our opinion. We’ve compiled and analysed more than 12,000 new car reviews from 30 of the top motoring websites in the UK to produce our Expert Rating Index. Why rely on one person’s opinion when you can have all of the top reviews gathered together in one place?

Despite the explosion in SUV sales over the last few years, small hatchbacks are still the best-selling cars in the UK. Small cars can be divided into two categories, known as city cars and superminis. City cars are smaller and (usually) cheaper, and will often be three-door hatchbacks. Superminis are larger and are usually five-door hatchbacks.

Volkswagen Up

Despite being on sale for nearly a decade, the Volkswagen Up is still one of the top-rated small cars according to our Expert Rating index.

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is one of the most highly rated small cars in the UK, being regarded as great to drive – although reliability is a concern.

SEAT Ibiza

The SEAT Ibiza has received very positive media reviews, and is one of the highest-rated superminis on sale in the UK.

Skoda Fabia

The Skoda Fabia is a practical supermini and stand-out value-for-money package, but rivals have better interior quality.

Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo has received generally good media reviews, with praise for its high levels of build quality and general refinement.

Mini hatch

The Mini gets generally good to very good reviews from the UK media, with praise for its driving dynamics. However, it's criticised for being too kitsch.

Kia Soul EV

The Kia Soul EV has received positive reviews with praise for its quirky styling. It's decent to drive, with a good range compared to many electric cars.

Peugeot e-208

The Peugeot e-208 has received very positive UK media reviews and has won several awards - including European Car of the Year in 2020.

Mini Convertible

The Mini Convertible has received positive media reviews and several awards, with praise for its driving dynamics and build quality.

BMW i3

The BMW i3 was an electric car pioneer and there's still nothing quite like it. However, that's because EV technology has moved on a lot.

Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto has received an unusually broad variation of media review scores, ranging from "Best City Car" awards to "Don't Buy" recommendations.

Dacia Sandero

The new Dacia Sandero has been highly praised for its value for money, comfort and practicality. Unfortunately, its safety rating is poor.

Peugeot 208

Media reviews for the Peugeot 208 have been positive, with praise for its design and build quality. However, poor ride and handling have been criticised.

Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 has received positive media reviews, with praise for its interior quality, equipment levels and driving experience.

Renault Clio

The initial reviews for the new Renault Clio have been broadly positive, with particular praise for its refinement and high-quality interior.

Fiat 500 Electric

The new Fiat 500 Electric has been praised for its driving dynamics and interior quality, both of which are much better than the old model.

Toyota Yaris

The fourth-generation Toyota Yaris has a clever hybrid powertrain to maximise electric power, but the interior isn't as nice as some rivals.

Dacia Sandero Stepway

The Dacia Sandero Stepway offers immense value in a small car – but only if you can live with its very poor safety rating.

Mini Clubman

The Mini Clubman has received generally positive scores from the UK motoring media, with fairly similar scoring for the Top-spec JCW model.

Honda e

The Honda e electric city car has been praised for its retro-futuristic styling and technology, but criticised for poor battery range.

Mini Electric

The Mini Electric has been praised for the way it drives, but criticised for its poor range compared to similarly-priced electric cars.

Audi A1

The Audi A1 has received positive media reviews, with praise for its comfort and technology. The A1 Citycarver version disappoints, however.

Mazda 2

The Mazda 2 has received generally positive media reviews, although it's no longer considered to rank among the best in its class.

SEAT Mii Electric

The SEAT Mii Electric is one of the more affordable options in the electric car market, but its Euro NCAP safety rating is sub-par.

Vauxhall Corsa-e

Media reviews of the electric Vauxhall Corsa-e have been positive, although (like the petrol version) its Expert Rating is disappointing.

Hyundai i20

The Hyundai i20 has been praised for being a big improvement over the old model, although it's not seen to be as good as the best in class.

Honda Jazz

The Honda Jazz is a practical and economical small car, with more room for passengers and luggage than similarly sized rivals.

Vauxhall Corsa

The Vauxhall Corsa has a disappointing Expert Rating for a brand new car, with a score that currently puts it firmly in the bottom half of its class.

Volkswagen e-Up

The Volkswagen e-Up! has undergone significant improvements since its launch back in 2014, but the cabin and safety tech are now dated.

Citroën C3

The Citroën C3 has received mixed media reviews, with our Expert Rating aggregator ranking it in the midfield of the supermini category.

Toyota Aygo X

The Toyota Aygo X is a stylish and well-equipped city car, but journalists agree that the lack of electrification across the range is a shame.

Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe was considerd a leading small electric car, but an abysmal zero-star safety rating means it's now impossible to recommend.

Nissan Micra

The Nissan Micra has received mixed scores from the UK media since it was launched, with earlier reviews tending to rate it more highly than recent tests.

Suzuki Ignis

The Suzuki Ignis has received mostly positive reviews. However, it was rated "Don't Buy" by Which? due to a poor three-star safety rating.

Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift has received a wider range of reviews from the UK media than most cars, ranging from 'Don't Buy' recommendations to outstanding scores.

Toyota Aygo

The Toyota Aygo has received mixed media reviews, with praise for its low running costs but criticism for a lack of overall refinement.

Kia Rio

The Kia Rio has received mixed media reviews, with an overall Expert Rating places it firmly in the bottom half of the supermini class.

Peugeot 108

The Peugeot 108 is practical, cheap to run and decent to drive, but it's now also dated and off the pace of newer city car rivals.

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 has received mixed media reviews, with scores dropping as the car gets older and starts to fall well behind the class leaders.

Fiat Panda

Despite its poor safety record, the Fiat Panda continues to receive mostly positive media reviews, although the scores have tended to decline over time.

Smart EQ Fortwo

The Smart EQ Fortwo has had mixed reviews, with praise for its agility and ease of parking but criticism for its high price and poor range.

MG 3

There is little to recommend the MG3 over other small cars. The Dacia Sandero is cheaper and better, while dearer rivals are better and safer.

Smart EQ Forfour

The Smart EQ Forfour appears on the surface to be an affordable electric car, but rivals offer much more, especially in range.

Despite all of the publicity about SUVs and crossovers, UK car buyers still choose more small hatchbacks than any other type of car.

The battle for the title of best-selling UK car has long been strictly Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa territory, with the Fiesta having claimed the title for 12 straight years. Other superminis such as the ever-fashionable Mini hatch consistently feature in the best-seller top ten.

Small cars are divided into two basic types –  the smallest, such as the Toyota Aygo, Kia Picanto and Peugeot 108 are known as city cars. Often available with only three doors, they are the cheapest cars on the market and a popular choice for first-time drivers with the money to buy new.

Superminis such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo or SEAT Ibiza are slightly larger than city cars. While three-door superminis were for many years offered as budget options they’ve now virtually died out – these days five doors are standard on almost all of the wide choice of models around.

Petrol engines dominate in both the city car and supermini markets. You won’t find a worthwhile city car fitted with a diesel engine, while diesel options in superminis are declining rapidly. Electric variants such as the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e are starting to go on sale but they remain the option to the petrol rule.