The supermini (small hatchback) class is incredibly competitive. There are more cars available than ever before, and buyers are demanding models that are great all-rounders. In most cases, they've grown in size over their predecessors, with today's superminis being big enough to serve as a small family car.
Thanks to increasing dimensions, the best superminis on sale today are often practical and spacious enough to accommodate a family - or even four adults - in relative comfort. Boot space can be compromised, but some models offer solutions to this with features such underfloor storage and plenty of cubby-holes.
Most of the superminis in this list are available in both three-door and five-door form, so there's plenty of choice if you're looking to buy in this class. This means you should be able to find the right car for your needs - be it stylish looks or a practical cabin layout. The Honda Jazz is particularly impressive when it comes to versatility, with a clever folding mechanism for the rear seats maximising the interior space.
Downsizing shouldn't mean compromising in the current car market, either. Many of the top models feature upmarket interiors that are packed with the latest features - the kind of technology on offer today in some modern superminis was reserved for the best luxury cars not even ten years ago.
Equipment levels can vary, but virtually every car comes with air-conditioning these days, with options such as Bluetooth, voice activation and sat-nav available on most cars, too. Superminis from premium manufacturers such as the Audi A1 and MINI Cooper offer the best equipment, but you will pay more for them. Even the Volkswagen Polo now features safety systems like emergency city braking and adaptive cruise control.
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 possible in the VW Polo and Audi A1. 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.
For an alternative view of the best small cars, check out our sister site Carbuyer