Best Small 4x4s

With the continuing migration of the SUV onto the UK's city streets, the small 4x4 class has come into its own. Delivering a compelling combination of practicality, rugged looks and off-road capability for those who need it, small 4x4s are becoming the city car of choice for many. A crowded market means there are plenty of options out there for buyers. Check out our run-down of 10 of the best small 4x4s and find the one that's right for your requirements.

Brown Fiat Panda

1. Fiat Panda

The Fiat Panda is one of the most recognisable city cars of the past few decades, and the 4×4 variant is the Italian marque’s off-road supermini. It was conceived to deal with Alpine snow and will handle the occasional dirt road excursion just as well. In addition to the characterful looks and stylish interior, it offers decent headroom in both the front and back. Fuel economy isn’t the best, however, and the Panda’s latest Euro NCAP test yielded disappointing results – it received the lowest possible rating of zero stars.

Blue Audi Q3

2. Audi Q3

The Audi stable boasts a range of SUVs and crossovers, and the Q3 shares many of the premium cues, features and characteristics of its bigger siblings. It includes dual-zone climate control, the Virtual Cockpit instrument display and progressive steering, which gets more responsive the more you turn the wheel. It also offers decent interior and boot space for a small 4×4, along with handling that’s agile for its class. The cabin isn’t Audi’s classiest effort, however, and rivals such as the Range Rover Evoque and the Volvo XC40 beat it in the comfort stakes.

Grey BMW X1

3. BMW X1

The X1 was one of the trailblazers in the family SUV market, giving buyers on a more modest budget access to the luxury SUV lifestyle. The second generation, launched in 2015, gave the car a major upgrade to enable it to compete with the likes of the Range Rover Evoque and the Audi Q3. The 4WD variant delivers drive to the rear wheels using an electro-hydraulic clutch on the rear axle. It’s more expensive than the front-wheel-drive version, however, so if you want to keep costs down you’ll do well to monitor how the optional extras mount up.

Red Nissan Juke

4. Nissan Juke

This Nissan Juke was another member of the vanguard for the small SUV class, offering more price-conscious buyers the chance to tap into high-riding style. The second generation launched in 2019 and brought the handling, performance and interior up to a level worthy of its looks. It also boasts a strong safety rating and plenty of features to choose from. Downsides include a choppy ride and Nissan’s slightly average reputation for reliability.

Grey Range Rover Evoque

5. Range Rover Evoque

The launch of the Range Rover Evoque symbolised a watershed moment in the evolution of the SUV class. No longer were Land Rover’s vehicles all about negotiating muddy tracks – here was a fashion statement that, while perfectly capable off-road, might well never leave the tarmac. The 2015 second generation has stayed faithful to the original. It’s more of an off-roader than rivals such as the Volvo XC40 and the Audi Q3, and it offers a plush interior and enjoyable drive. It’s not one of the cheaper small 4x4s on the market, but PCP costs are competitive and it will hold its value well.

Red Ford Kuga

6. Ford Kuga

The second generation of the Ford Kuga, which ran from 2013 to 2020, was designed for the US market alongside Europe. This made it bigger and moved the styling upmarket to compete against larger 4x4s and SUVs compared to its predecessor. While that makes it spacious and comfortable inside, you won’t get the manoeuvrability on city streets of some smaller 4x4s. The interior is less posh than some of its rivals, which also beat it on boot space. But the Kuga is a practical and temptingly priced family SUV that’s fun to drive.

Silver Mercedes-Benz A Class

7. Mercedes-Benz A-Class

If you’re looking for a small car with a big presence, the Mercedes A-Class could fit the bill. With the three-pronged badge on the grille and a gorgeous interior, it has a swagger few family cars can match. It’s bristling with tech too, and it boasts a five-star safety rating from NCAP. On the downside, it’s expensive for a small hatchback and doesn’t deliver as fun a driving experience as some of its rivals. Most A-Class models are front-wheel drive; for 4WD you’ll need the A220 or AMG 35 or 45 models.

Red Suzuki Swift

8. Suzuki Swift

Want a small, affordable hatchback that’s fun to drive and can carry five adults? That might sound like a lot of boxes to tick, but the Suzuki Swift has a good go at doing so. It’s impressively spacious for a small 4×4, though the room for passengers has been maxed out at the expense of storage capacity. The contrasting door pillars contribute to a car that looks pretty cool too – from the outside at least, with things a little more functional inside the cabin. The ride and handling are designed to be enjoyed, particularly for cruising around town, where this car comes into its own.

Gold Dacia Duster

9. Dacia Duster

Want a piece of the SUV action but wondering how you’re going to pay for it? The Dacia Duster could be the answer to your conundrum. Delivering the practicality, flexibility and butch looks of an SUV for the price of a small family car, it’s one of the best second-hand 4×4 cars out there for buyers on a budget. It’s been stripped down to meet this price point, however, and entry-level models come with very little equipment. Safety scores are less than impressive too, as it can’t compete with the range of features offered by pricier alternatives.

Orange Peugeot 3008

10. Peugeot 3008

Peugeot has done its best to make sure the 3008 stands out in today’s crowded family SUV market. Its bold styling includes narrowed headlights and sweeping lines on the front end, with a similarly eye-catching interior. It’s cheaper to buy than premium-badged rivals such as the Volvo XC40, though it’s undercut by the likes of the Nissan Qashqai. Punchy engines also offer decent fuel economy for a car of this kind, and it should hold its value well.

With smaller 4x4s only increasing in popularity, now could be a great time to get in on the action. Want to find out more? Visit our small 4×4 hub for detailed information on this crowded class, then browse our selection of small 4x4s to find the one that’s right for you.

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