Top 10 Small Cars

Small cars are the most popular, offer the most choice and see the most competition between the manufacturers so we've picked ten of the best to get you started.

You might also like our top ten small electric cars.

The Best Small Cars:

1st

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £23,000 to £54,000

Summary: The A-Class is Mercedes' smallest car, which has been slowly evolving since 2013 and is arguably the best overall small car you can buy right now.

Of course it's at the premium end of the spectrum and the top trims cost many pennies, but at the lower end on a monthly deal you might find it quite convincing.

Compared to the outgoing 2012-2017 model there's a small handling upgrade, huge new two screen infotainment dash, improved boot storage and updated looks.

We Like: The looks, voice control, lane change assist, clever LED headlights, the optional massage seats and the oh so nice panoramic dash (with the 7" to 10" upgrade).

Sweet Spot: The Sport Executive with the 2.0 petrol and automatic gearbox looks like a good choice.

Petrol

  • A180 - 1.3 litre 4 cylinder (136 hp /  100 kW)
  • A200 - 1.3 litre 4 cylinder (163 hp / 120 kW)
  • A250 - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (224 hp / 165 kW)
  • AMG A35 - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (306 bhp / 225 kW)
  • AMG A45 - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (421 bhp / 310 kW)

Diesel

  • A180d - 1.5 litre 4 cylinder (116 hp / 85 kW)
  • A200d - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (150 hp / 110 kW)
  • A220d - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (190 hp / 140 kW)

Electric

  • A250e: Electric plus 1.3 litre petrol hybrid (262 bhp / 193 kW)

Trims

  • SE - Halogen headlight, 16" wheels, air-con
  • Sport - SE with LED headlight, 17" wheels, climate control
  • Sport Executive - Parking assist, reverse camera, electric folding mirrors, 10.25" infotainment touchscreen, wireless charging
  • AMG Line - Sporty exterior details, 18" wheels, leather steering wheel
  • AMG Line Executive - Parking assist, reverse camera
  • AMG Line Premium - Illuminated door sills, 10.25" infotainment, keyless entry / ignition, augmented reality satnav, 64 colour ambient lighting
  • AMG Line Premium Plus - Adaptive LED headlights, electric memory seats, traffic sign assist
  • AMG - 18" wheels, AMG exterior details, privacy glass, drive modes, leather steering wheel, keyless start, electric mirrors
  • AMG Premium - Ambient lighting, keyless entry / start, premium speakers, 10.25" infotainment, 19" wheels
  • AMG Premium Plus - Black wheels, adaptive damping system, panoramic sunroof, electric memory seats, adaptive LED headlights, traffic sign assist, Burmester surround sound

Gearboxes

  • 6 speed manual
  • 7 speed DCT auto
  • 8 speed DCT auto (2.0 litre diesel + A45 + hybrid)
Car Finance
2nd

Audi A1

Audi A1

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £19,000 to £27,000

Summary: The A1 has been evolving since 2010 and is one of the best premium small cars you can buy. While not the cheapest it's certainly classy and there are oodles of trim levels, engines and options to spec it up.

Within the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) the Audi A1 is closely related to the cheaper Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza so it's worth checking out both.

Compared to the 2012-2017 model there's a major visual upgrade, larger dimensions, new driver assist tech, new LED headlights and a new 8" + 10" TFT dash setup.

We Like: The LED headlights, the optional 8" to 10" dash upgrade, wireless phone charger and two level boot floor add on.

Sweet Spot: The S Line Style with the 1.5 litre petrol and automatic gearbox looks like a good choice.

Petrol

  • Sport 25 - 1.0 litre 3 cylinder (93 bhp / 70 kW)
  • Sport 30 - 1.0 litre 3 cylinder (114 bhp / 85 kW)
  • Sport 35 - 1.5 litre 4 cylinder (148 bhp / 110 kW)
  • Sport 40 - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (197 bhp / 147 kW)

Trims

  • Technik - LED headlights, 10.25" infotainment, 15" wheels, 8.8" infotainment
  • Sport - 16" wheels, front sport seats, cruise control, rear parking sensor
  • S Line - Sport suspension, sport seats, 17" wheels, LED interior lighting
  • S Line Competition - Adjustable suspension, red brake calipers
  • S Line Contrast Edition - Alcantara leather seats, 18" wheels, smoked headlights, black Audi badge
  • S Line Style Edition - Leather seats, 18" wheels, smoked headlights, adjustable LED interior lighting, black Audi badge
  • Vorsprung - Sat nav, heated seats, 18" wheels, black Audi badge

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual (1.0 litre)
  • 6 speed manual
  • 7 speed auto (6 on the 2.0 litre)
3rd

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £16,000 to £24,000

Summary: The Fiesta doesn't need an introduction and has been around in one form or another since 1976. If you aren't bothered about having a premium badge on the front it offers everything you could need from a small car, it looks great and is even available as a hot hatch with sporty suspension in the Fiesta ST.

Compared to the 2008-2016 model there's an increase in overall dimensions to boost interior space, slightly evolved styling, new driver aids and a new infotainment system with large TFT touchscreen. It's also available in an Active version with more ground clearance and protection.

We Like: The larger dash on the more expensive trims, the looks, the auto braking system, the competitive price compared to rivals and the optional heads up display.

Sweet Spot: The 123 bhp petrol Titanium looks like a good choice.

Petrol

Diesel

Trims

  • Style - 16" wheels, halogen headlights, 4.2" infotainment, air con
  • Zetec - Fog lights, 8" infotainment with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, cruise control, quick clear screen
  • Titanium - LED rear lights, rain sensing wipers, front / rear parking sensors, keyless entry / start, climate control, headed seats
  • Titanium X - 17" wheels, privacy glass, electric driver's seat, partial leather trim
  • Vignale - Leather seats, 18" wheels, LED headlights, B&O audio, park assist, colour ambient lighting, heads up display, heated steering wheel
  • ST-Line - Zetec with 17" wheels, LED fog lights, twin tailpipe, sports suspension, sports steering wheel, Aluminium gear knob, keyless start, Aluminium finish pedals 
  • ST-Line X - Partial leather trim, leather steering wheel, 18" wheels, red brake calipers, electric folding mirrors, front / rear parking sensors, privacy glass, rain sensing wipers, sat nav, electronic driver's seat, heated seats, climate control
  • ST - 276 bhp engine, electronic limited slip differential, 19" wheels, rear parking camera, adaptive LED headlights, active suspension, B&O audio, cruise control, lane centre assist, Recaro seats, heated steering wheel, keyless entry / start

Gearboxes

  • 6 speed manual
  • 6 speed auto (1.0 litre 99 bhp engine)
  • 7 speed auto (ST)
  • 8 speed auto
4th

Peugeot 208

Peugeot 208

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £16,000 to £33,000

Summary: The Peugeot 208 been around since it took over from the 207 in 2012 and the latest 2019 model looks damn good with an interior as funky as the Mini.

We Like: The LED "fang" running lights and the additional headlight stripes on the GT trims, the fresh and funky looks, the 3D effect dash, SOS system, infotainment with 10" upgrade, the wireless charging function and the drive assist tech.

Sweet Spot: The GT Line with the 100 bhp 1.2 petrol and 8 speed auto looks like the best choice.

Petrol

Diesel

Electric

  • 136 bhp / 100 kW with 217 mile range (50 kWh battery)
  • 80% charge in 30 minutes from a fast charge station
  • 7.5 hour full charge from wall box
  • 24 hour full charge from regular socket

Trims

  • Active - Hill start assist, lane keeping assist, speed limit recognition, 3.5" dash, 7" infotainment with Car Play / Android Auto, 16" wheels, air con, rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel, LED "fang" running lights, 3 USB sockets, pedestrian active braking, SOS system
  • Allure - 17" wheels, climate control, electric folding mirrors, electric parking brake, electric rear windows, 3D effect dash, automatic wipers, mobile wireless charger, 4 USB sockets, driver attention alert
  • GT Line - Front parking sensors, rear camera, Chrome exhaust pipes, black roof / mirrors, LED headlights and "claw" running lights, nighttime / cyclist / pedestrian active brake, premium leather steering wheel, trim stitching, 8 colour ambient lighting
  • e-208 GT - 10" infotainment, sat nav, keyless entry / start, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, heated leather seats, lane positioning assist

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual (74 bhp)
  • 6 speed manual
  • 8 speed auto with paddles
5th

Mini Hatchback

Mini

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £16,000 to £28,000

Summary: The new BMW mini appeared in 2001 and instantly bought the iconic shape back to the mainstream. Today you can drive the third generation model, launched in 2017, in standard hatchback form, as a convertible and even as an estate in the Clubman / Countryman but the three and five door hatchbacks are the most popular.

The Mini Cooper is the sensible fast option but at the very top of the range is the bonkers 228 bhp John Cooper Works (JCW) and even more bonkers 301 bhp JCW GP.

We Like: The sporty ride, 6.5" to 8.8" infotainment upgrade, LED lights, driving assistant tech, intelligent SOS system and styling that simply stands out against the competition but remember in real life it's effectively a two seater.

Sweet Spot: The 5 door 1.5 litre 134 bhp Cooper Exclusive with manual or auto gearbox looks like a good choice.

Petrol

  • One - 1.5 litre 3 cylinder (101 bhp / 75 kW)
  • Cooper - 1.5 litre 3 cylinder (134 bhp / 100 kW)
  • Cooper S - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (189 bhp / 141 kW)
  • JCW - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (228 bhp / 170 kW)
  • JCW GP - 2.0 litre 4 cylinder (301 bhp / 225 kW)

Electric

Trims

  • One Classic - 15" wheels
  • One Sport - 17" / 18" JCW wheels, spoiler, sport seats / steering wheel, cruise control, driving modes, 
  • One Exclusive - 17" / 18" wheels, leather steering wheel, leather seats, stitched gear stick, cruise control
  • Cooper Classic - 15"/16" wheels
  • Cooper Sport - 17" / 18" JCW wheels, spoiler, sport seats / steering wheel, cruise control, driving modes, 
  • Cooper Exclusive - 17" / 18" wheels, leather steering wheel, leather seats, stitched gear stick, cruise control
  • Cooper S Classic - 16"/17" wheels, sport seats / steering wheel
  • Cooper S Sport - 17" / 18" JCW wheels, spoiler, sport seats / steering wheel, cruise control, driving modes, 
  • Cooper S Exclusive - 17" / 18" wheels, leather steering wheel, leather seats, stitched gear stick, cruise control

Gearboxes

  • 6 speed manual
  • 7 speed auto
  • 7 speed sports auto
  • 8 speed auto box (JCW)
Car Finance
6th

SEAT Ibiza

SEAT Ibiza

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £16,000 to £20,000

Summary: The Ibiza has been slowly evolving since 1984 but the current shape can be traced back to the 2002 model and it was refreshed for 2017. It's named after the Spanish island of the same name.

SEAT is also part of the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) so it's closely related to the more premium Volkswagen Polo and range topping Audi A1 - both worth checking out as well.

We Like: The styling, massive boot, LED headlights, digital dash and rear parking camera but the interior doesn't have the premium feel of the models above.

Sweet Spot: The XCELLENCE with the 1.0 litre 94 bhp petrol looks like the best choice and gets you the 8" dash.

Petrol

Diesel

Trims

  • SE - 15" wheels, halogen headlights, LED running lights, 6.5" infotainment with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, leather steering wheel, air con, emergency brake assist, hill hold control, tyre pressure monitoring
  • SE Technology - 16" wheels, 8" infotainment, CD player, sat nav, voice control
  • FR - 17" / 18" wheels, tinted rear windows, LED headlights, multi colour ambient lighting, sport steering wheel, cruise control, auto wipers, driving modes, sports suspension, driver attention alert
  • FR Sport - 18" wheels, suede seats, dual zone climate control
  • XCELLENCE - 17" wheels,  tinted rear windows, heated mirrors, LED headlights, ambient lighting, suede seats, cruise control, climate control, electric rear windows, keyless entry / start, rear parking sensors, auto wipers, driver attention alert
  • XCELLENCE Lux - Adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, rear camera, driving modes

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual
  • 6 speed manual
  • DSG auto (113 bhp)
7th

Renault Clio

Renault Clio

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £14,000 to £18,000

Summary: Launched 30 years ago the Clio has had plenty of time to evolve into the slick 2019 model available today. It's closely related to the Nissan Micra and those of a certain age will remember the Papa and Nicole advert!

We Like: The handling, easy parking tech, 7" to 9.3" dash upgrade, 360 degree camera, BOSE driver headrest speakers and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity.

Sweet Spot: The S Edition with the 99 bhp engine looks like the best choice.

Petrol

Diesel

Trims

  • Play - LED headlights, 16" wheels, hill start assist, pedestrian / cyclist auto braking, lane keeping assist, cruise control, air con, heated mirrors, auto wipers, SOS system, 4.2" dash, USB socket
  • Iconic - LED fog lights, tinted rear windows, leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors, 7" infotainment with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
  • S Edition - 17" wheels, climate control, electric rear windows, 9.3" infotainment, 7" dash, 2 USB sockets, front parking sensors, rear camera
  • R.S. Line - RS interior and exterior detailing
  • R.S Line Bose Edition - Mini antenna, front arm rest, electronic parking brake, Bose 9 speaker audio, 7" infotainment

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual
  • 6 speed manual (diesel)
  • CVT auto
  • 7 speed auto (129 bhp engine)
8th

Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £14,000 to £19,000

Summary: The Micra has a proud history, dating back all the way to 1982, however the current shape can be traced back to 2017. Compared to the old car the looks have been been completely overhauled and it's closely related to the Renault Clio.

We Like: The looks, handling, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity, cruise control and parking sensors.

Sweet Spot: The Acenta with the 99 bhp engine looks like the best choice.

Petrol

Trims

  • Visia - Air con, stop / start engine tech, pedestrian auto braking, two speaker audio, USB socket, tyre pressure monitoring, halogen headlights, hill start assist, auto wipers
  • Acenta - 16" wheels, 4 speaker audio, cruise control, traffic sign recognition, 7" infotainment with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, front fog lights
  • N-Sport - 17" wheels, part leather seats, rear camera, rear parking sensors, keyless entry / start, front armrest, tinted rear glass, sports suspension, 5" TFT dash
  • Tekna - As N-Sport without sports suspension plus BOSE 6 speaker audio, sat nav, leather gear knob

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual
  • 6 speed manual (115 bhp)
  • 6 speed auto
9th

Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £15,000 to £21,000

Summary: The Yaris hatchback dates back to 1999 with the latest model appearing in 2020. While it doesn't quite have the levels of spec and tech seen on the other models listed here it does have the basics and costs less.

We Like: The black roof, customisation potential and the standard driver aids.

Sweet Spot: The Excel with the 110 bhp engine looks like a good choice.

Petrol

Electric

Trims

  • Icon - 15" wheels, anti collision system, road sign recognition, lane departure alert, auto high beam headlights, heated mirrors, fog lights, cruise control, leather steering wheel, auto wipers, air con, 4.2" dash, 7" infotainment, 6 speaker audio, CD player, USB socket
  • Y20 - 16" wheels, tinted rear windows, black roof
  • Excel - Climate control, rear LED lights, electric rear windows, electric folding mirrors, keyless entry
  • GR Sport - 17" wheels, sports suspension, black roof

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual (71 bhp)
  • 6 speed manual (110 bhp)
  • 6 speed auto (110 bhp)
  • CVT auto (hybrid)
10th

Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Brochure Test Drive

Price: £12,000 to £19,000

Summary: The Fiat 500 has been around since 2007 and has nailed retro cool as well as the new Mini. It's super compact, available in loads of different flavours and owners love them.

We Like: The cool retro styling, funky interior, customisation potential, 7" circular dash, optional range of "second skin" graphics and 7" infotainment upgrade.

Sweet Spot: The Lounge trim with the 84 bhp engine looks like a good choice.

Petrol

Trims

  • Pop - 14" wheels, LED running lights, remote locking, start / stop engine, USB socket, tyre pressure monitoring, 5" infotainment
  • Lounge - Pop plus 15" wheels, sunroof, 7" dash with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, rear parking sensors, fog lights, height adjustable driver's seat, leather steering wheel, cruise control, air con, 50:50 split rear seats
  • Star - Lounge plus 16" wheels, sunroof, sat nav
  • Sport - 15" wheels, 7" dash with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto, rear parking sensors, fog lights, height adjustable driver's seat, leather steering wheel, cruise control, air con, 50:50 split rear seats, rear spoiler, sports seats
  • Rockstar - Sport plus 16" wheels, tinted windows, sunroof, sat nav

Gearboxes

  • 5 speed manual
  • 6 speed manual (103 bhp)
  • 5 speed auto

How Did We Rank Our Top Ten?

We looked at all the small cars you can buy new and picked the top contenders, taking into account style, power, technology and value for money.