Top 10 Best Small Cars of 2020

7 minutes Published: 15/05/2020

Sure, SUVs and crossovers are all the rage right now. People rave about the higher driving position, the sleek styling, and the practicality.

But do you really need one?

Your 25-minute commute is spent driving through towns and cities. Is AWD essential?

Bigger cars come with higher running costs and lower fuel economy. In a big car, it can also be a bit of a challenge to squeeze through notoriously narrow British roads.

It seems silly to fixate on an unnecessarily large car when we're spoiled for choice when it comes to small cars!

Whether it's the best-selling Ford Fiesta, the stereotypically posher Polo, or the ultra-practical Honda Jazz, there's something for everyone.

Here’s our top picks for the best small cars around.

For other cars that come in small packages, take a look at our Best City Car roundup. And if you’re new to the roads, check out our Best First Cars or the Best Cars for 17 Year Olds list, filled with excellent small cars.

1. Ford Fiesta

RRP: £12,520 - £26,230 | From £120.73 per month to lease
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 179g/km

Pros

  • A blast to drive - responsive gearbox.

  • Interior design looks great - a far cry from the 'Nokia Phone Button' vibes of the dashboard on older models.

Cons

  • Some core safety kit is optional.

  • Top trims are overpriced. 

A British staple (from an American Manufacturer… go figure), the Ford Fiesta is actually the all-time best selling car in the UK. Notorious for being a seriously good car at a reasonable price-point, it’s no surprise that the Fiesta is so popular.

The Fiesta has always been a people pleaser. It's got lots of space so it’s ideal as a small family car. It’s also fuel-efficient so it's great for the budget-conscious.

And we haven’t even mentioned yet how fun the Fiesta is to drive. With sporty models like the ST around, this car really does tick all the boxes (if you don't mind being one of many on the roads).

2. Honda Jazz

RRP: £13,900 - £22,435
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.5
  • Fuel: P, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 82 - 139g/km

Pros

  • Class-leading space and boot.

  • A breeze to drive, comfortable on the motorway.

Cons

  • More expensive than it used to be - not as much of a bargain.

  • Too many competitors are more fun and stylish.

The humble Jazz was once a car your friend's famously boring Dad had in his driveway for just shy of a decade. 

It didn't exactly ooze cool then, and we’re sad to say it probably never will.

Regardless, the Honda Jazz is still well worth considering, as it's actually a great small 5 door car!

The ‘weird’ tall body of the Jazz is designed like that for a reason - it's got huge interior space for a supermini and can fit 4 adults (plus you) in it with plenty of room to relax. Also, it sports a class-leading boot so it’s great for a small family. 

When you combine this with great fuel economy, Honda's great reliability record, and the great tech onboard, the Jazz makes for a fantastic new car.

3. Volkswagen Polo

RRP: £13,660 - £24,280
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 206g/km

Pros

  • The tech on the higher trims is excellent, including Radar Cruise control, BlueTooth, and a great 8-inch infotainment screen.

  • Interior looks really upmarket.

Cons

  • The basic trims aren't worth the lack of tech...

  • But the trims packed with tech are extortionate!

Since its first release in 1975 the Volkswagen Polo, along with its big brother the Golf, has been a mainstay on Britain's roads.

Today, there’s no more three-door versions being made so you’re stuck with the five-door -  if you listen closely, you can actually hear boy-racer Polo GTI owners across the UK weeping. 

So, with the sleek and sporty look of the three-door version away, why wouldn’t you just scrap the Polo idea and go for a Golf? Isn’t it just a small Golf and the furthest thing from a totally new model? Well, yes! But that’s not a bad thing.

For one, the Polo is quite a bit cheaper. It also has better fuel economy, and the engines are beefy enough to not feel a million miles away from the Golf.

If you don't need the extra space and you’re looking for a small car, you can't go wrong with a Volkswagen Polo!

4. Audi A1 Sportback

RRP: £14,880 - £33,945
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 168g/km

Pros

  • Classy, high-quality interior and cabin.

  • The touchscreen is fantastic.

Cons

  •  The engines are average for the price.

  • Handling isn't great and it's not as sporty a supermini as it looks.

As one of the most desirable car manufacturers in the UK, the A1 is the cheapest way you can get an Audi experience without selling a kidney.

Audi has stated that their target market is a 'young, urban audience'. This might be a bit ambitious as while the A1 is the cheapest way to get an Audi, it's by no means cheap!

So, if you’ve just turned 18 and are slaving away in retail, you may have to politely bypass this car and stick with your ‘04 Fiat Punto.

The badge and the reputation of class is a big deal for a lot of people. However, that’s not to say this isn’t a great car in it’s own right! The A1 is packed with big car tech and the interior is classy and great to sit in.

5. Seat Ibiza

RRP: £12,915 - £22,300
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 193g/km

Pros

  • Tech is great for the price.

  • Great space.

Cons

  • Some of the plastics in the cabin feel a bit cheap.

  • Not as sporty to drive as similarly priced competitors, like the Fiesta.

The Ibiza is an excellent alternative to the likes of the Fiesta and Polo. Only being beaten on spaciousness by the Jazz, the Ibiza is an extremely practical car that still manages to have fun. The boot space and rear seats have plenty of space for everyday life.

In recent years, SEAT has upped its game on the tech and style front. The interior is a classy affair, and can easily compete with the VW Polo’s upmarket vibe. The engines are economical and pack a punch.

SEAT has designed the Ibiza with the younger driver in mind, so it's packed with features like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a huge 8-inch infotainment screen.

The Ibiza has attractive sleek styling and drives like a dream, so whether you're 18 or 68, you're guaranteed to enjoy owning this small car.

6. Hyundai I10

RRP: £9,195 - £16,965
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.2
  • Fuel: P
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 141g/km

Pros

  • The build quality is solid for such a small car.

  • Well-designed interior. 

Cons

  • Base trim levels are just too basic - no DAB radio or air-conditioning is inexcusable in this day and age!

  • Not nearly as exciting to drive as other cars on this list (but it’s also a lot cheaper).

Small but mighty, the Hyundai i10 has taken the affordable small car market by storm in recent years. While it's the smallest car and the only ‘city car’ on this list, it still has a surprisingly spacious interior, with plenty of legroom for backseat passengers.

Hyundai are renowned for great build quality, and they don’t compromise on the i10, so don’t fret about the car blowing over in high winds - it’s a lot tougher than it looks!

While very similar to the Toyota Aygo and Citroën C1, we prefer the i10 due to it’s nicer interior and more exciting tech offerings.

The i10 is an easy car to live with. It's perfect for navigating through tight city streets and the fuel economy is great.

7. Skoda Fabia Estate

RRP: £12,405 - £19,770 | From £192.40 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Estate
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 88 - 190g/km

Pros

  • Seriously good value for money.

  • Petrol engines run well and have great fuel economy.

Cons

  • Entry-level trims are a little too basic and not very desirable.

  • There's not a 'sportier' model (e.g Fiesta ST, or VW Polo GTI).

Perhaps the biggest turnaround in recent UK motoring history, Skoda has completely transformed its image.

Skoda went from being considered poorly built and unreliable to being regarded as makers of genuinely great cars that are good value for money.

The Fabia, Skoda's representative in the small car market, has won numerous awards over the years, and is a brilliant car for the price.

While competitors like the Ibiza and Fiesta have had major re-vamps in recent years, the current Fabia sticks with its guns and refines what's made it so good in the past.

If it's not broken, don't fix it!

8. Renault Clio Hatchback

RRP: £11,710 - £22,740
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 3.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 285g/km

Pros

  • Impressive safety features.

  • Interior is really nice.

Cons

  • Loading lip on the boot is impractically high.

  • Can be noisy at high speeds.

The old school Clio model will be nostalgic for many. A popular first car, the Clio has come a long way from its humble design and reputation as a ‘good starter car’.

Now on it's 5th generation, the Clio is a seriously cool looking car, whether it’s your first or twenty-first car. The interior now has a really upmarket feel that makes it look a lot more expensive than it is.

With decent tech on offer, a smooth driving experience and lots of trim options available, the Renault Clio is a fantastic small car.

9. Vauxhall Corsa Hatchback

RRP: £8,940 - £26,425 | From £143.22 per month to lease
  • Doors: 2 - 5
  • Engine: 1.8
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 203g/km

Pros

  • Still affordable and even better value for money than it used to be.

  • You get a lot of tech for the price.

Cons

  • The engine is on the thirsty side.

  • Interior quality isn't the best.

Another classic 'first car', the Corsa is one of the most popular cars in the UK - not a month goes by where it isn’t amongst the top sellers.

Vauxhall has capitalised on the young British driver’s affinity for the Corsa by getting on-board with some seriously cool tech, such as wireless hotspots and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Corsa has a fun and youthful look and is great to drive. Nippy around town and spacious inside, the Corsa is now not just a great small car, but a great car in general.

Summary

To recap, you really can’t go wrong with a small car. Long-gone are the days of small hatchbacks having dismal technology and dubious safety stats.

You can now get the vast majority of the tech available on a big car, in a small car. Good things come in small packages!

If you’re shopping for your first car, have a look at our Best First Cars or our Best Cars for 17 Year Olds list! And for other teeny cars, check out our Best City Car roundup and our full lists of small car lease deals and city car lease deals.