Top Ten Best Small Cars

If you're in the market for a small car but not sure what to go for, check out our list of the best used small cars. Our selection contains some of the most cost-effective cars to buy and run, including ideal picks as a first car or family runabout. They're practical too, and some can be surprisingly roomy on the inside, despite their compact proportions. It's not all about being sensible and economical though – you've got plenty of options here that are an absolute blast to zip around the city in.

What is the best second hand small car to buy?

Small cars make up a big chunk of all car sales in the UK, and with good reason: they’re great value and fun to drive. Pick one with a slightly larger engine and they’ll also get you along the motorways and country roads with equal ease. Most modern small cars have veered off from their traditional low-value approach, and there are plenty of sophisticated, luxury options to choose from. Which small car is the right one for you depends on your needs, so we’ve divided up our list with this in mind. But if we have to pick just one as the best allrounder in the small car category, there’s one model that stands out year after year…

Silver Ford Fiesta

1. Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is an elder statesman of this style and it wasn’t too long ago that it (with a nod towards the VW Polo) was one of the only choices for a buyer looking for a small car. The competition has grown in the years since the Fiesta was first released, but Ford has constantly evolved their small-car stalwart, and it’s now onto its 8th iteration. When taking all-around value for money, practicality and features into account, it’s probably still number one in our book. It seems plenty of people agree: take a look out on the nearest busy street and it won’t be long before you spot a Fiesta.

That said, the Fiesta has some seriously tough competition these days, and there might be a much better small car out there for you. Read on to find out what we think are the most comfortable, reliable and practical small cars that don’t compromise on fun.

Which small cars offer the best value for money?

Red Seat Ibiza

2. SEAT Ibiza

The SEAT Ibiza has been around for a long time, and for good reason. It’s fun to drive and has stylish looks, offering low insurance premiums for younger drivers, an estate version for families, and the super-sporty Cupra model for speed-lovers. SEAT is part of the Volkswagen Audi Group, and the Ibiza shares parts with the VW Polo, making it a cheaper yet impressively capable alternative. This might just be the best value small car around.

Blue Dacia Sandero

3. Dacia Sandero

Dacia may not be the first car brand you can think of when looking for a second-hand small car. That said, when the Dacia Sandero landed in 2013 it was the cheapest new car in the UK, meaning it can make for one seriously cheap used buy. Of course, you can’t expect top gadgets and premium interiors at this price, but be sure that practicality, efficient engines and (if you opt for the SUV-like Sandero Stepway) pretty stylish looks are well within your reach with this small car.

Which used small cars are the most reliable?

Blue Kia Rio

4. Kia Rio

Famed for their extensive seven-year warranty period, it’s no surprise that Kia makes the cut when it comes to reliability. The brand, formerly lesser-known in the UK market, has been on the up-and-up for some time now. The Kia Rio is their small car offering, and its running costs are a big factor in it making our list. Frugal with fuel and with typically low insurance fees, it’s a roomy, practical and reliable option. Although the Rio’s styling won’t knock your socks off or get you admiring glances from the neighbours, it’s a solid choice that won’t break the bank.

Red Toyota Yaris

5. Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris shook things up when it landed in 1999, immediately winning Car of the Year on arrival. It’s been through a number of generations and facelifts over the years but has maintained a reputation for reliability and low running costs. A solid choice for a range of buyers, its economical engines have included a hybrid option since 2011. The 1.0-litre engine is fine for shooting around town, but consider the 1.5 if you expect to be regularly venturing onto motorways.

What is the best small family car?

Blue Renault Zoe

6. Renault Zoe

Go electric and step into the 21st-century with the Renault Zoe. Both you and kids will relish being inside this super-modern vehicle with a panoply of features, and you can rest easy knowing that it has an exceptional safety record and is ultra reliable. A five-star rating from Euro NCAP way back at its launch in 2013 shows you how long-standing and well-earned the Zoe’s reputation is. Value for money is crucial for families, and you get that in spades here – the money you save on fuel could help fund a grand-touring holiday.

Red volkswagen polo

7. Volkswagen Polo

Serving families since 1994, the VW Polo is well built, reliable and oozes quality. It’s got more brand appeal than its SEAT Ibiza stablemate, but all of that comes at a price, so you’ll need to budget accordingly. It feels smooth and responsive on the road but not as fun to drive as some rivals, so if that’s high on your list, you might want to look at the Fiesta again. Safety shouldn’t be a worry though – the Polo got five stars from Euro NCAP in both 2009 and 2017.

What is the best small 4X4?

Fiat Panda

8. Fiat Panda

You can hardly say that the Fiat Panda looks daunting, but it does pack a punch where it counts. Raised height and off-road tyres mean that this 4X4 tackles treacherous terrain quite easily. Plus, the lightweight body offers a good return on the miles. Space for four, low costs and genuine off-roading character make the Panda one of the best small 4X4s around.

Blue Suzuki Ignis

9. Suzuki Ignis

The chunky-looking Suzuki Ignis is sure to turn heads with its LED headlights and blistered wheel arches. The 4X4 Allgrip version is lightweight and nippy, which makes it a pleasure to steer around corners. Spacious interiors, plenty of tech and the advantage of hybrid engines make the Suzuki Ignis a great all-round prospect when it comes to small 4X4s.

What is the best small automatic car?

White Honda Jazz

10. Honda Jazz

The Honda Jazz is surprisingly spacious and practical. It’s comfortable and drives well too, not to mention the funky styling on 2015-onwards models. Whichever generation of Jazz you buy, you’re getting reasonable running costs and Honda’s reputation for innovation and reliability; since 2009, the Jazz has scored a Euro NCAP safety rating of five stars. Something to be aware of when shopping second hand is that Honda improved ride quality in models after 2008 – look out for those if that’s important to you. If you want something that’ll easily get you through peak-hour traffic, the Jazz is one of the best small automatic cars in the market.

Be it singles, couples or young families, there’s a small car for everyone. The range of compact second-hand vehicles is ever-growing, so now you can make your decision based on what is really important to you. Head over to our listings page to find the right choice for you.

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