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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 7,500 new car reviews from 25 of the top motoring websites in the UK to produce our Expert Rating scores. 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.

SEAT Ibiza

The SEAT Ibiza has received very positive media reviews. Based on 16 reviews we have currently analysed, it ranks second in class overall.

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 the UK's best-selling car and also one of the most highly rated in its class, being regarded as great to drive and own.

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.

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.

Volkswagen Polo

All the key Volkswagen Polo news, reviews, safety and eco ratings from across the UK automotive media, brought to you by The Car Expert.

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.

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.

Mini Convertible

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

Dacia Sandero

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Renault Zoe

Although visually similar to the original model, the latest Renault Zoe represents a sizeable evolution and offers far better battery range.

Renault Clio

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

Skoda Fabia

The Skoda Fabia has received generally good reviews, and is considered both practical and good value for money – if not very exciting.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Clubman

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

Audi A1

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

Honda Jazz

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

Volkswagen e-Up

The Expert Rating analysis for this car is coming soon, so the score indicated is only provisional. Check back again shortly.

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.

Vauxhall Corsa-e

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

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.

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.

Citroën C3

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Citroën C1

The Citroën C1 has received generally positive media reviews, mainly for its low running costs, but is now dated and off the pace of rivals.

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.

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.

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.

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage has the worst Expert Rating of any new car we have analysed. Any other small car would be a better choice.

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.

Best car rankings

The Car Expert has the ultimate ranking of the best and worst new cars on sale, based on scores from 25 of the top UK motoring websites.

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