What is the Best Small Family Car?

If you're looking for a good small car for your family, affordability is probably high on your list. Buying used on Gumtree is a great way to get the most bang for your buck. That way, you don't have to compromise on quality either. So, what is the best used small family car? It's got to offer good value, reliability and practicality – style and a bit of quality won't hurt either. Read on to find something for every taste and budget.

What is the cheapest small family car?

Blue Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero

The Dacia Sandero is one of the cheapest cars you can buy new in the UK, which makes it an absolute bargain used. Don’t get the wrong idea from the very attractive price tag – it feels pleasingly well built, especially in the fancier trim levels. It’s as quiet as a church mouse on the motorway as well, and there’s enough legroom in the back for most adults or older kids to travel in comfort. Despite its spaciousness, it’s still small enough to be easy to park. For SUV body styling, roof rails and extra ground clearance, opt for the Sandero Stepway.

Blue Citroen C3

Citroën C3

If Dacia is too much of an unknown for you, the Citroën C3 is a very affordable buy from an established brand. The small engine means insurance is fairly affordable too, leaving more cash for family fun. It offers striking, rugged styling, great versatility and, as a compact crossover, SUV practicality in a hatchback-sized package. The interior is spacious, with a good amount of room in the boot for luggage, shopping and school bags. Some models even have movable rear seats so you can squeeze in baby seats or give growing teens more legroom. Driving in the C3 is a quiet and pleasant experience, with smooth steering that copes well on twisty roads, though the automatic models can feel a bit jerky.

What is the most reliable small family car?

Grey Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla

Toyota has an excellent reputation for reliability, and the Toyota Corolla is certainly no exception. On top of that, it’s fun to drive and offers distinctive looks plus a wide choice of trims. Opt for the five-door family hatch version for everyday use, or check out the estate for ultimate practicality and more boot space. There’s also a four-door saloon to consider, however getting luggage in and out is trickier. Most versions of the Corolla are petrol, but self-charging hybrid versions are available too, even if they are a little harder to find on the used market. Newer models come with modern features such as touchscreen multimedia infotainment systems.

Red Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra

Another Japanese manufacturer, Nissan, has an offering to rival Toyota. The Micra is a fashionable supermini that is both reliable and budget-friendly. Driving one is a satisfying and easy experience too, and the practical interior is very well laid out. Inside, the Micra is smart and easy to clean – ideal for growing families.

What is the best value small family car?

Silver Seat Leon


If you’re looking to get the most from your money, you really can’t go wrong with a SEAT. The Spanish manufacturer is part of the Volkswagen Audi Group, so their cars share the basic mechanics with those pricier brands. That’s great news for reliability. SEAT’s Leon is a modern choice that offers style inside and out. This fun-to-drive family hatch has a tight turning circle that makes squeezing into parking spaces a doddle. There’s also a good amount of boot space that can easily swallow shopping and school bags, and the ride is smooth, with the choice of a slick manual or a slightly more efficient automatic. There’s also a plug-in hybrid version for even better fuel economy. You won’t find any with more or less than five doors, so getting kids in and out of the backseat is easy on all models.

Red Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra

Our other great-value choice is the Vauxhall Astra. Thanks to its huge popularity, there are plenty of Astras on the used market, which keeps prices low. What’s more, the Astra is a family hatchback that offers great fuel economy. You’ll especially see the benefit if you go for the Ecoflex version, which uses a small diesel engine to produce a high mpg rate. That’s not all the Astra has to offer though – agile handling and good stability when cornering make the drive feel simple. There’s also a practical boot and plenty of room inside. All versions come with a generous range of gadgets, with the latest models featuring a nifty touchscreen satellite navigation system. The ride quality can be a little bumpy at low speeds, but it settles down as you speed up and feels pleasant for everyone on board.

What is the best premium small family car?

Blue Audi A3

Audi A3

If you’re after a premium family car in a fun-size package, the Audi A3 could be the way to go. It matches desirable looks to capable handling and feels adventurous yet controlled to drive. If your passengers are prone to carsickness, it’s worth avoiding the S-Line trim as these versions have a sportier rear suspension that can make bumpy roads a little uncomfortable. The A3 is available with a petrol or diesel engine, and newer models come with self-charging hybrid technology to boost efficiency without compromising on performance. Classy, comfortable and with plenty of practical features, the A3 remains one of the best small family cars out there.

Blue mercedes-benz a-class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

One of the most popular cars by Mercedes-Benz, the A-Class is another high-quality family hatchback we would heartily recommend. Onlookers will instantly spot that it’s a Merc thanks to its distinctive exterior styling. There’s a good amount of legroom in the back and a boot that’s large enough for shopping, sports kits and any other daily bits and bobs. You’ll find it’s fun to drive and comes with selectable driving modes to suit the situation. As you’d hope for a small family car, there’s a great range of kit as standard too, including Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning, even on older models.

If you’re still not sure which small family car is right for you, read more in our guide to the best small cars on the used market. If you’re ready to find your next family car, why not jump straight into our hatchback listings?

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