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The UK’s most underappreciated small cars

According to UK reviewers, Britain's most popular small car is not its best - here are five capable superminis worthy of your consideration

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As 2022 progresses, it seems that UK buyers are increasingly opting for smaller, cheaper and greener new superminis to reduce the impact on both their wallets and the environment.

The most popular of these superminis is the Vauxhall Corsa, the UK’s best-selling car in 2021 and well on the way to retaining that title in 2022. But Britain’s most sought-after small car is not the favoured choice of UK reviewers, and there are several – often overlooked – alternatives that more highly regarded.

The Mini hatch is a fine alternative, and is also frequently found in the best-sellers list, while the Ford Fiesta is highly praised but currently not available to order as Ford struggles with supply chain problems. But what else is out there?

If you are considering the Corsa, or you are looking for a new supermini in general, it’s worth thinking outside the box. Using our award-winning Expert Rating Index, we’ve listed five capable small cars with better Expert Rating scores than the Vauxhall. All are worth checking out – praised by the UK motoring media for their value-for-money, practicality and driving dynamics around town.

Please note all that pricing listed below is directly from the manufacturer, and accurate as of September 2022. All fuel consumption information relates to the cheapest trim and engine combination on offer. All Expert Rating scores are correct as of September 2022.

SEAT Ibiza

SEAT Ibiza hatch (2018 onwards) – Expert Rating

Previously the highest-ranked small car in our Expert Rating Index, the SEAT Ibiza is one of the best combustion-powered compact options on the new car market, and is actually more highly regarded by the UK media than the Volkswagen Polo that it’s based on.

Despite this, the Ibiza is consistently outsold by the Polo, even after its last facelift at the end of last year. Praised for its comfort and refinement, some reviewers have argued that the Ibiza’s driving dynamics are not quite as sharp as the Ford Fiesta, and its long-term reliability has been questioned by the motoring media. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 78%.

  • Fuel consumption: 54 mpg
  • Prices start at: £17,755
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Skoda Fabia

Skoda Fabia | Expert Rating

The newest of the cars in this list, the fourth-generation Skoda Fabia received a warm welcome from the British motoring media when it arrived on UK roads at the end of last year – including The Car Expert, as it won our ‘Best new small car of 2021’ accolade at the turn of the year.

Like the Ibiza, the latest Fabia is not as popular as its Volkswagen Group stablemate the Polo, and despite its relatively cheap entry-level pricing, it is consistently outsold by the more expensive British-built Mini hatch. Certainly worthy of consideration, the Fabia currently holds an Expert Rating of 78%. It has been praised for its value-for-money and smart interior practicalities, but criticised for its low-quality cabin materials.

  • Fuel consumption: 55 mpg
  • Prices start at: £18,500
  • Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Peugeot 208

2020 Peugeot 208 wallpaper

The Peugeot 208 is the car upon which the Vauxhall Corsa is based, and UK reviewers have generally found it to be a better and more stylish vehicle than the Vauxhall version.

The 208’s popularity has been steadily increasing as the year progresses, and it even appeared in August’s top ten sales chart. That said, the 208 continually falls short of the Corsa’s impressive sales numbers, despite being the more favourable choice among UK reviewers.

Praised for its interior quality and exterior looks, the 208 current holds an Expert Rating of 72% – a score hindered by the car’s reportedly firm suspension and poor handling.

  • Fuel consumption: 56 mpg
  • Prices start at: £19,190
  • Warranty: Three years with unlimited mileage

Renault Clio

Renault Clio (2019 onwards) - Expert Rating

The Renault Clio has been a supermini favourite for decades in the UK, but the latest fifth-generation model which arrived in 2019 hasn’t proven to be as popular as prior generations.

This isn’t a reflection of the car’s characteristics though – praised for its refinement, high-quality interior and rather fun driving experience. That said, motoring outlets largely prefer the Ford Fiesta when it comes to driving excitement, and it’s not as spacious inside as some of its rivals. The Clio currently holds an Expert Rating of 71%.

  • Fuel consumption: 54 mpg
  • Prices start at: £18,795
  • Warranty: Five years or 100,000 miles

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris is another well-known supermini model in the UK, and as the latest iteration of this compact runaround comes packed with helpful on-board tech, it is certainly worth shortlisting. The Yaris comes with a hybrid petrol-electric motor as standard, which explains its low fuel consumption and slightly higher starting price. Toyota also offers the Yaris with a generous ten-year warranty – the longest in the business.

Currently holding an Expert Rating of 70%, the Yaris has been highlighted for its outstanding Euro NCAP safety scores, which should make it a contender for any new car buyer. However, some journalists have pointed out that it lacks the interior styling is rather boring in comparison to some of the other small car choices.

  • Fuel consumption: 64 mpg
  • Prices start at: £21,460
  • Warranty: Ten years or 100,000 miles

For the definitive rankings of the UK’s best small cars, we’ve used The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating Index. The index analyses new car reviews from 30 of the top UK motoring websites, using an advanced algorithm that we have developed specifically to compare review scores.

It recalculates and updates the Expert Rating score for every single car every time we add a new review (and we’re currently up past 13,500 reviews!) to make sure you’re getting the most accurate and reliable ratings for every new car.

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.