Best small cars

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec static
Credits: Pete Gibson
28 Jan, 2014 10:00am

From the brilliant Skoda Citigo to the Ford Fiesta facelift, here are the 10 best small cars

Downsizing is a big trend in motoring at the moment. Buying a smaller car is a great way to cut your insurance premiums and boost your fuel economy so there's more attention than ever directed at the best small cars on the market.

Choose wisely and a top city car or supermini can deliver most of the qualities you'd expect from a larger vehicle. If you can forgo a little cabin and boot space it's possible to make giant gains in terns of the purchase price, running costs and general ease of use.

Small cars these days aren't even all that small once you get inside. Modern packaging techniques mean most superminis can comfortably sit adults in the rear while smaller city cars are more than adequate for children. City cars don't tend to offer that much in the way of boot space but you can usually fold the rear seat backs down to increase capacity. Go for a supermini and you can expect a generous boot. 

• Most economical cars on sale

Parents buying a first car for their teenage children will be concerned about safety but they needn't be. 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.

The low running costs are probably the big draw for buyers considering a small car – some models promise fuel consumption figures in excess of 80mpg and CO2 emissions low enough 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. Or, for an alternative review of the best small cars on the market today, visit our sister site

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Wow. This is brilliant. This photo is good. Really Good. If the little Skoda looked half as smart as it appears in your photo, I would have bought one tomorrow.
I didn't see that bonnet affixed to the Citigo when I saw it last in metal. It looked like a cabin on four wheels with a stub for bonnet. A spacious albeit dour cabin with pop-out windows and not much else. Yet in your photo the Citigo not only has one but of a decent size too. Your photographer is good. Take my word for it.

Citigo is a great car, love mine.
Also like the fact you left the over-hyped 500 and panda out of the list.

You really are a prize idiot in every sense of the word aren't you? Anything from the VAG empire you just have to have a snide comment on. Citigo is a brilliant car, get over yourself and your jealosy of how well the Skoda brand as a whole is doing world-wide.

No Panda or 500? Or Mito? Autoexpress Suck...!

Contrary to what you appear to be thinking I don't really hate VW or its subsidiary companies. I have owned VWs in past and if I like one again I'll put my money on it.
For instance out of this list of small cars, I could buy an Audi A1 because in addition to being talented it looks smart.
I could also consider a VW Polo with the 1.2 TSI 105bhp engine or the 1.4L TSI with cylinder deactivation technology. But you won't see me in the 1.2L 60bhp although its a tried and tested VW engine in a Polo.
I'm also interested in VW's Taigun concept - a mini-SUV that will be based on the Up platform. And I'm keen on Up GT.
However I'm not gonna buy a Citigo just because of its VW roots. I find it very underwhelming. It seems to have been built with a singular utilitarian purpose. A bit like Honda Jazz - very talented but ...
No need to get personal.

It's (more than) a pity even a sh*** that you forget
the panda,...etc

+ 1

Seems strange that the other mags are saying the Panda is best in class while AutoExpress don't even rate it in their top 10. Just as happened with the Giulietta. Doesn't add up....

Could be because Italian cars are very poor and yes I do include ferrari and Lamborghini

Italina cars are crap

Cars from Italy are c**p that is why

Italian cars =Poorly made and unreliable

Skoda's = 1.Taxis
2. Cheapskate VW's

'world wide' - Not quite vagfan. Skoda don't even sell cars in the most important car market - North America. Nor do they sell in Japan, South Korea and few other Asian markets.

so saving £500 is bad? I know - let's put an Audi badge on it and charge an extra £3000 for a damped handle and a different badge

No way the citigo and its brothers are top of the list cars. They are worse in the NVH than the panda, no choice of engines and in some markets cost as much as the 1.25 diesel panda. And putting them above cars from the class above (fiesta, ibiza, polo, a1) doesn't make sense. Maybe rethink your "reviews"?

i can't believe you are not even putting in your list the new fiat Panda and the 500...

Have you ever owned one! I have always had Italian cars and none were poorly made or unreliable for that matter. My wife drives a Golf and all that does is visit garages. I think people should get a life and revisit what they think. Such a cliche.. but Autoexpress for sure is owned or financed by VAG.


Please everyone, as someone who lives in the USA, (Colorado) I would love to have some choices in small city cars.
On that note, I must say. I'm so sick of Hatchback automobiles. Why can't someone build a inexpensive automobile with a boot and a convertible roof? This roof business is a big deal, I'm very tired of full-boat optioned out automobiles. Hey.. one should be able to buy a full-tilt luxury car if they choose. On the other hand, those who want some sun in a city car should have that choice too!!! I'm happy to crank up my own windows, same for the top!

just goes to prove the point...Auto Express is owned by the Germans so they have to be showing that their towing the party line to their pay masters. Fiat 500 and panda not even in the top 5? WHAT A TOTAL WHITE WASH!!!!

Errrm, ehhhh, not sure how to respond to that without calling you a moron...

AS IF ... i don't wanna know what you driving LOL

Don't trust anything from the car magazines. Spend more on advertising your car looks great. Don't spend on advertising, be consigned to the two stars bin. For years almost all magazines have been touting VAG cars as something to behold. The reality that they are unreliable, expensive to repair, overpriced and generally stodgy to drive never really cuts through in a VAG review.

If you think city goes/vw ups are good have a look on the owners site Briskoda major gearbox problems especialy there auto version.I own a Skoda Oct vrs and a panda brilliant little car. best value for money used. If buying new i wouldnt touch german buy a new model Hyundai i110.

With ever increasing fuel prices and the high cost of motoring generally, it makes far more sense to look for a more eco friendly car. Lower emissions, lower running costs and lower road tax.

Not anymore!!!

Ford made cars that last forever and are easy and fun to live with.

Hmm... Access denied on the Fiat Panda's page. C'mon AE, does it really hurt that much to say something nice about a FIAT?

The Fiat Panda & Renault Clio would be my pick, It's rivals might well be fractionally and slightly more polished dynamically and have better fiqures. But Ford, VW, cannot compete when it comes to the long history, culture, sophistication and flair of the Fiat & Renault marques.

Could you explain why you mention the reliability records for the 208? Peugeot has a better reliability than VW and Audi for example in all the rankings. It seems that you base your articles on some old stereotypes and some marketing techniques, but you forget to look at the real figures. Don't need to mention that if you're not telling the truth.

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