Modern superminis are better than they ever have been - and buyers know it. Since 2004 sales of superminis have gone up 132 per cent, with UK buyers switching from larger hatchbacks like the Ford Focus down to superminis like the Ford Fiesta.
The current crop of top superminis are all spacious and practical enough to function as a small family car. In the boot is where most will notice a lack of space, but with folding seats and plenty of legroom for passengers it's possible for many families to get along with them just fine.
These cars are usually available with either three or five doors, meaning you can choose between sharper looks or improved practicality depending on your situation. The Mazda 2, MINI and Audi A1 all have sharp looks, and the three-door versions cement their sylish image. On the other hand the Skoda Fabia and Dacia Sandero are spacious and great value - they will suit those who aren't worried about the way they look.
Many of these cars are also bang up to date with the latest in-car technology too, so you won't be missing out on equipment by downsizing to a supermini. Air-conditioning is standard on almost everything these days, with options such as Bluetooth, voice activation and sat-nav available on most cars, too.
Safety systems like emergency city braking and adaptive cruise control come with the new VW Polo, and althought the price reflects it, cars like the Audi A1 do come with plenty of features usually only seen on much larger models.
A fun drive is important in the supermini class. Great handling is offered by cars such as the Ford Fiesta and MINI Cooper, while refined cruising is a strength the VW Polo and Peugeot 208. Engines available in these small hatches have improved significantly, too. There are a wide range of petrol and diesel units available, with many manufacturers updating their ranges to include efficient three-cylinder powerplants.
Diesel superminis offer headline-grabbing economy figures, but these can often only make financial sense if you're covering enough miles to offset the higher initial costs. For this reason, it's important to take into account the way you'll be driving before you make your decision between petrol and diesel.