Best Of

Best small cars

Small cars are some of the most popular on offer, and it's easy to see why. Here are the best of them.

Words by: First published: 30th October 2018
It’s no accident some of the best-selling cars in this country are small cars. Buyers love the manoeuvrability and reduced fuel economy that go hand-in-hand with compact dimensions, and the best small cars these days also provide enough practicality to satisfy a small family.

The thing with small cars, though, is that they come in a range of different forms – be it hatchback, SUV or anything else – and suit a wide range of different budgets. Here, we pick out the best ones in a variety of areas. They are…
  • Dacia Sandero – the cheap one
  • VW Up GTI – the fun one
  • Kia Picanto – the long-warranty one
  • Renault Captur – the SUV one
  • Mini Hatch – the posh one
Best small cars
Best small cars
Dacia Sandero – the cheap one
The Dacia Sandero isn’t the smallest car on our list, but it is the cheapest. It’s actually the cheapest new car on sale in the UK. In truth, you probably want to steer clear of the very cheapest one – known as Access – because it’ll be a little bit too basic for many tastes; you don’t get electric windows, remote locking or air-conditioning. The second-rung Ambiance trim provides most of the really important stuff, though, and doesn’t cost a great deal more. As well as affordability, the Sandero also gives you decent practicality, with lots of interior space.
Best small cars
Best small cars
VW Up GTI – the fun one
If you’re looking for fun on a budget, you’ve got no better option than the Up GTI. Volkswagen’s junior hot hatch is super-affordable, yet it delivers a genuine pocket-rocket experience. The 1.0-litre turbocharged engine may only have 115 horsepower, but with perky responses and a rev-hungry nature, it’s huge fun to thrash. Meanwhile, the handling is darty and responsive, but it also delivers enough comfort and practicality for a small family. Add in the car’s effortless style and cheeky character, and you have a car with sky-high desirability.
Best small cars
Best small cars
Kia Picanto – the long-warranty one
There are many reasons to like Kias – not least their style, solidity and affordability – but the warranty package you get is certainly one of the more compelling ones. The standard seven-year/100,000-mile agreement not only gives you peace-of-mind for a very lengthy period, it also helps reduce depreciation on your car (any motorist’s single biggest running cost) because the warranty is fully transferrable to the new owner. The Picanto is also a cracking car in a number of other areas, being enjoyable and settled to drive, and surprisingly spacious.
Best small cars
Best small cars
Renault Captur – the SUV one
SUVs are all the rage at the moment, and we don’t see that changing any time soon. They deliver a mix of style and practicality that few other car types can match, and being small is no barrier to that. The Renault Captur is not short of style, and it’s one of the most practical cars of its type, with loads of space inside, a big boot and a whole bunch of family-friendly features. It’s also affordable to run and it’s comfortable and quiet on the road.
Best small cars
Best small cars
Mini Hatch – the posh one
Not all small cars have to be budget options, and the small car market has a variety of swanky models to cater for those with a taste for the finer things in life. The Mini Hatch is our current favourite, especially in five-door format. The Mini badge immediately gives it the classy image that well-heeled buyers crave, while the funky styling makes it even more desirable. The interior isn’t the roomiest, but it’s sensational for quality and there’s lots of scope for personalising your car. Best of all, it’s great to drive, with a range of punchy-yet-efficient engines and a great balance of comfort and agility.