Small cars are the perfect entry into the world of motoring, so have long been regarded as the best choices for newly qualified drivers. But while that’s still the case, city cars and superminis are no longer sold on price alone – they’re now so capable in many areas, buyers are increasingly downsizing to them from bigger models.
Obviously, larger cars are more practical, but the latest small cars make much better use of the space they do have. So while they’re unlikely to be big enough for a family of five, most five-door superminis should comfortably seat two young children in the back and still have adequate space in the boot.
Parents buying a first car for their teenage children should have no concerns about safety. The best small cars have performed well in Euro NCAP crash tests, and come with plenty of airbags and safety features. Just make sure ESP stability control is included; some manufacturers only offer it as an option.
Whoever is driving can look forward to amazingly low running costs with a small car – some models promise fuel consumption figures in excess of 80mpg and low enough CO2 emissions to qualify for free road tax. Adding to the appeal for younger drivers will be these cars’ low insurance group ratings, which should keep premiums down as much as possible.
City cars and superminis really come into their own around town. Their compact dimensions make for easy parking and manoeuvring in the tightest spots, while the best models have responsive steering and agile handling to ensure nipping around urban streets is fun. But that’s not to say they can’t be taken on the motorway. The top choices in this market offer impressive refinement at speed, plus enough power to keep up with the flow. Just make sure you try your new small car on a mixture of roads on a test drive, so you can be happy it performs well in every situation.
We've rounded up the 10 best small cars on the market. Click the links on the left to find out which one is right for you.