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Top 10 most reliable small cars to buy 2024

We reveal the most reliable small cars you can buy according to the 2023 Driver Power survey…

If you’re buying a smaller car, it could be because you’re looking to reduce your running costs or you simply don't need the space offered by a large family car. But any savings you make will quickly disappear if it’s always breaking down or in the garage for costly repair work. If you really want to own a cost-effective small car, it needs to be a reliable car first and foremost.

The 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey is where thousands of motorists can tell us all about the car they drive and tell us about their experience - good and bad. It’s a helpful resource for anyone looking at buying a car today, giving them an insight as to what to expect.

The small cars included here are drawn from the city car, supermini, small SUV, and premium small SUV sectors. We’re looking specifically at the combined scores owners provided for general reliability and build quality.

Most reliable small cars to buy

Here are the top 10 most reliable small cars in reverse order…

10. Dacia Duster - 95.71%

It’s hard to beat the staggering value for money offered by Dacia’s super-satisfying SUV, the Duster.

Scoring well across the board, the Duster impresses its owners when it comes to its affordability, economy, servicing and other costs. While other cars in this category can score higher than the Duster when it comes to build quality, it feels built to last and more than capable of withstanding everything day-to-day and family life could throw at it.

Should issues arise, every new Dacia is covered by a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which can be extended up to a maximum of six years or 100,000-miles for additional peace of mind.

9. Kia Picanto - 95.95%

While the Kia Picanto is one of the smallest cars on the list, it seems to perform just as well as much larger cars when it comes to quality, as well as overall value. 

Offering peace of mind for its owners (and even subsequent owners), the Picanto comes with Kia’s unbeatable seven-year/100,000-mile factory warranty. When combined with the South Korean city car’s reasonable scores for value for money and running costs, the Picanto can offer drivers the quality, confidence and longevity you can with vehicles in the class above.

8. Citroen C3 - 96.36%

Overall, the Citroen C3 performed reasonably well in our most recent Driver Power survey, with owners praising the performance, interior, drive and reliability offered by the little French supermini.

There’s nothing particularly special about Citroen’s warranty, as it lasts for three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. That being said, the first two years are not limited by mileage, however should you exceed 60,000 miles before the third year, you will not get the final 12 months worth of cover. Servicing and maintenance costs are reasonable, and Citroen offers a simple service plan for its cars with reasonable monthly payments to ease the cost of running.

7. Kia Ceed - 96.42%

It’s business as usual for the Kia Ceed, with owners coming out in force to champion the family hatchback for build quality, value and reliability. In fact, it managed to finish 10th on our list of the best cars to own based on feedback from owners, plus it ranked in the top 20 for running costs and for reliability.

Kia’s are generally well screwed together, however should any faults occur, the South Korean brand’s seven-year warranty is one of the longest offered by any mainstream car manufacturer.

6. MINI Hatch - 96.47%

Appearing on this list for the second year in a row is the MINI Hatchback, with owners once again coming out to praise their car. The MINI does seem to be mechanically strong, but did score lower marks when it comes to interior quality and safety.

The stylish hatchback comes with a pretty standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty that covers the usual gamut of mechanical and electrical parts – not including those subjected to normal wear and tear. 

MINI also offers competitive extended warranty for peace of mind, for those who are looking for additional security.

5. Honda Jazz - 96.51%

The practical and reliable Honda Jazz supermini is enjoying yet another year in the most reliable small car rankings. Not only is it entering its fourth year on this list, it’s moved up two places from its 2022 ranking of seventh. While the Jazz may have been let down by lower scores for its styling, its reliability and overall quality resonated well with its owners and those who drive them regularly.

All new Honda's come with a warranty which covers all mechanical and electrical defects (other than those caused by standard wear and tear) for a period of three-years or 90,000-miles, though some of the components for the hybrid systems are covered for even longer.

4. Hyundai Kona - 96.75%

It’s no surprise that the Hyundai Kona has retained its place within the top 10, showing that this small SUV is proving to be a solid purchase.

Despite being a more affordable small car, owners scored the Kona highly, suggesting you don’t need to compromise on overall build quality. The Kona was commended for its interior and exterior quality and reliability across the drivetrains.

Hyundai offers a generous five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty for all its vehicles which should put prospective buyers’ minds at ease and reduce the need for any expensive extended warranty. The Kona also scored well when it came to running and maintenance costs, making it an attractive buy for anyone looking for a reliable and affordable small car.

3. BMW i3 - 97.38%

Owners of the pioneering electric city car came out in force to champion its reliability and quality in this year’s Driver Power survey. Taking first place in the build quality category, and sixth overall for reliability, the BMW i3 should prove a trouble free purchase if you find the right secondhand example. 

The BMW i3 came with the same 3-year/60,000-mile warranty as other BMW products, but there is also an additional eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty for the lithium-ion battery pack. If you find one of the last examples produced in 2022, you should still have some factory coverage left. Alternatively, if you purchase an Approved Used i3 from BMW, you get an extra 12 months warranty cover.

2. Ford EcoSport - 98.27%

Not only did the Ford EcoSport prove to be the second most reliable small car in our latest Driver Power survey, it also managed to finish third on our best cars to own list. EcoSport owners praised the small SUV for its value, running and maintenance costs and reliability, so it should provide worry-free motoring for some time to come.

Like most of its rivals, the EcoSport is covered by a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty. Ford also offers buyers the chance to extend their cover up to four years/80,000 miles or five years/100,000 miles, if you plan on covering lots of miles during your ownership or just fancy some extra peace of mind.

1. Toyota GR Yaris - 98.66%

As a two-door hot hatch, the GR Yaris may be compromised when it comes to space, but owners aren’t making any exceptions with reliability. The fiery Toyota secured the top spot as the most reliable small car of 2023, and was found to be the second most reliable car to own, based on this year’s Driver Power results.

Owners praised the quality and reliability of their GR Yaris, plus Toyota offers what it calls a 'Relax' programme which means every new and used model is able to be covered by up to 10 years’ manufacturer warranty. This is provided via a standard three-year standard warranty, which can then be extended every year following an annual service at a Toyota dealer.

Click below to see the most reliable cars by sector...

Click here to take our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey...

Content editor

Ryan is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2023, he worked at a global OEM automotive manufacturer, as well as a specialist automotive PR and marketing agency.

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