Best Small Cars with High Driving Positions

7 minutes Published: 12/03/2020

When you ask a bunch of prospective new car buyers what they want, the phrase ‘High Driving Position’ is bound to come up. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean a big, clunky SUV. 

While there’s nothing wrong with a full-sized SUV, they’re definitely too big for many drivers - you live in a city, so why do you need a 4x4 off-road monster for the school run?! 

With the recent crossover/SUV boom, car manufacturers have begun making smaller, ‘compact’ SUVs which offer a high seating position. This means you can have a great view of the road without having a big car.

To help you pick the right option, we’ve compiled a list of the best small cars with high driving positions!

For a larger car, check out our best cars with a high driving position blog. Are you in the market for a car that suits your family life? Take a look at our best family cars list. Want a 'proper' SUV? Consider one of our best SUV cars.

1. Mazda Cx-3

RRP: £18,735 - £26,460
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 105 - 160g/km

Pros

  • Great looking small SUV.

  • Fun driving experience. Feels light and handles tight city corners like a champ.

Cons

  • The interior quality is just average.

  • Tech on base trims is disappointingly bare. 

The Mazda CX-3 is the Japanese manufacturer’s smallest SUV offering. Not as big as the family hatchback, the Mazda 3, the CX-3 is actually the company's smallest car (the Mazda 2) on steroids. 

The CX-3 is the perfect small SUV for Mazda lovers who want a high driving position but still want a small, agile car that’s easily driven around the city. The CX-3 is a practical car, with decent room in the back (for short to medium journeys) and a reasonable boot. That being said, this option is definitely designed for urban exploration, and if all-out practicality is your focus, then you might want to look elsewhere. 

A great looking SUV that’s packed with big-car tech at a reasonable price point, you can’t really go wrong with a Mazda CX-3.

Our Rating:

2. Renault Captur

RRP: £15,080 - £30,940 | From £203.47 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.5
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 131g/km

Pros

  • Highly customisable.

  • Fuel economy is excellent. 

Cons

  • Not as practical as some rivals.

  • Could be more fun to drive.

Renault was fast to jump on the small SUV/Crossover trend, and it’s really paid off for them. The Captur is one of Renault’s best-selling cars in the UK - and for good reason. 

It’s a nice looking car, with sleek angles and adventurous colour options that’ll appeal to most people - it’s not got that traditional SUV style, and looks the furthest thing from a rugged off-roader. It’s also got some decent tech on the inside and drives well too - all for a really affordable price! 

Space-wise, there’s plenty of practicality for everyday life, but it’s nothing exceptional. The Captur has excellent fuel economy and falls into the lower insurance groups, so it won’t cost you a fortune to drive, unlike some bigger SUVs. 

Our Rating:

3. Mini Countryman

RRP: £22,410 - £38,325 | From £247.92 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 180g/km

Pros

  • Distinctive looking car - undoubtedly a Mini!

  • Well designed boot.

Cons

  • Lacking the fun factor you’d expect from the Mini brand.

  • Expensive compared to some similarly equipped rivals.

The Mini Countryman has taken the classic Mini Hatchback shape we all know and love and somehow managed to turn it into a surprisingly good SUV!

The Countryman is an excellent option for those that love the sporty driving style and design of the Mini but hate the lack of practicality it offers. Still, the Countryman has pretty powerful engines for this class, but the fuel economy suffers a bit as a result. 

Unfortunately, the Countryman isn’t as fun to drive as the smaller Minis, but that’s to be expected. With so much more space on offer, you have to make compromises somewhere! All things considered, the Countryman is a great small SUV to drive. 

Our Rating:

4. Hyundai Kona Hatchback

RRP: £15,980 - £28,150 | From £193.48 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 90 - 158g/km

Pros

  • Really affordable.

  • Five star Euro NCAP rating.

Cons

  • The cabin is cramped.

  • Should have more engine options.

The Hyundai Kona has a far more exciting look than most Hyundais. The South Korean automakers usually opt for a conservative design aesthetic, that occasionally verges on boring.

The Kona bucks this trend with an angular and boldly styled small SUV body. While the Kona has come to market quite a bit later than other competitors, it’s still a worthy entry and manages to earn its place as one of our best small cars with high driving positions!

Hyundai’s engines are pretty nice, but there are only a few options, and none of them are powerhouses. This is worth the trade-off though, as the fuel economy is respectable for this size of car. Perhaps most importantly, Hyundai Kona’s are reliable - and you’ve got a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty 

Our Rating:

5. Nissan Qashqai

RRP: £19,080 - £34,935 | From £201.89 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 99 - 208g/km

Pros

  • Really comfortable to drive.

  • Plenty of space.

Cons

  • Interior quality is lacking a bit.

  • Tech should be better.

The Qashqai has been an incredibly successful car for Nissan. In fact, the Nissan Qashqai is the most popular British-built car in the world! 

Offering a little bit more size than Nissan’s other popular small SUV (the Nissan Juke), the Qashqai is the perfect car for drivers who want the perks of an SUV without the overbearing size. The legroom and headroom in the back seats are excellent.

As the car is made here in the UK (at Nissan's Sunderland plant), you’ll reduce the life-cycle emissions quite a bit, making it a great option for environmentally conscious drivers. Combine this with low MPGs and Nissan’s reliability, and the Qashqai is a clear winner. 

Our Rating:

6. Vauxhall Crossland X

RRP: £16,340 - £24,235 | From £197.96 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 128g/km

Pros

  • Decent tech, even on the entry-level trim.

  • A lot of space in a small body, especially in rear seats. 

Cons

  • The suspension is often a bit uncomfortable. 

  • Competitors offer more for the money.

The Crossland X is an excellent small SUV for families who want something a little bit bigger than a small hatchback but don’t have the need for a full-sized SUV. 

Bigger than the Mokka X, but smaller than the Vauxhall Grandland, the Crossland is an excellent compromise. It offers all the perks of a small car (good fuel economy, easy to drive, etc.)  with the desirable high driving position of an SUV. 

Vauxhall Crossland does a good job of combining the practicality of a mini-MPV, with the cool looks and stylings of a Crossover. 

Our Rating:

7. Peugeot 3008

RRP: £21,740 - £46,695 | From £263.57 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 33 - 182g/km

Pros

  • Lots of tech available.

  • Handles well for a small SUV.

Cons

  • Engines are efficient but lack punch. 

  • The manual gearbox isn't as good as competitors.

The days of Peugeots being ‘boring but practical’ cars are in the past. The French automaker’s latest cars are really slick looking, with angular, sporty designs and a gorgeous interior. The Panoramic glass room is a highlight.

Jumping on the SUV trend, the Peugeot 3008 is a really upmarket car for a great price. It looks as good as any premium competitor, inside and out.  Not quite a full-size SUV, the 3008 is a great option for a medium-sized family who needs more practicality than a typical hatchback. 

The 3008 has a wide range of nice engines, but the diesels are the shining stars here. With low CO2 emissions and great fuel economy, you can’t go wrong.

Our Rating:

3008 Estate Lease Deals

From £263.57 per month

8. Kia Xceed

RRP: £20,570 - £34,640 | From £245.28 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine:
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 142g/km

Pros

  • Entry-level trims are generous. 

  • The infotainment system is fantastic.

Cons

  • Not as smooth a ride as competitors.

  • Boot space is disappointing.

The XCeed is the excellent Kia Ceed hatchback on performance-enhancing drugs - which isn’t a bad thing. This car definitely falls into the compact SUV category and isn’t a bulky affair at all.

In terms of Kia options, the XCeed sits in between the hatchback options and the full-sized SUV, the Kia Sportage. Compared to the Ceed, the XCeed has a higher driving position while still being equipped with the super-economical engines that Kia is renowned for.

With Kia's manufacturer-leading 7 year warranty, the Xceed is a reliable SUV that’s great if you’re in need of a practical family car, or if you just want to sit up a little bit higher!

Our Rating:

9. Audi Q2

RRP: £20,175 - £43,185 | From £247.97 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 160g/km

Pros

  • Excellent interior quality.

  • Engines are smooth.

Cons

  • Really expensive compared to rivals.

  • Nothing special to drive. 

The smallest car in Audi’s excellent ‘Q’ SUV line, the Q2 is unquestionably built for the city. With nippy, efficient engines, the Q2 is perfect for the morning commute, offering a roomy cabin and plenty of luxuries.

The Q2 is ideal for those who want that high driving position, but don’t want to haul around a huge car in busy urban traffic. 

In a crowded market, the Q2 just about manages to stand out as distinctively ‘Audi’, with that trademark posh interior and expensive-looking design.

Our Rating:

Q2 Estate Lease Deals

From £247.97 per month

10. Skoda Karoq

RRP: £20,660 - £34,880 | From £245.18 per month to lease
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 114 - 156g/km

Pros

  • Great value for money.

  • Spacious. Perfect family SUV.

Cons

  • Some might find the design a bit boring. 

  • Quiet to drive, but boring. Big brother Skoda Kodiaq is better.

Replacing the bizarre looking yet incredibly good Yeti, the Karoq has big boots to fill.  Thankfully, the Karoq is a much better looking affair, with a nice angular design that makes it look more like a Volkswagen than a Skoda.

A compact SUV, the Karoq is built on the same frame as the Seat Azteca. The Karoq offers excellent space and a high driving position in a small, intelligently designed body. 

The Skoda is a really upmarket car. Sitting in the interior makes it feel like a much more expensive car than it is, and it’s equipped with all the tech you might need. 

4/5

Karoq Estate Lease Deals

From £245.18 per month

Summary

Just because you want a high driving position doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a big SUV that you don’t need!

As our list has shown, there’s a huge number of small SUVs/Crossovers on the market that offer you a great driving position at a much cheaper price than a full-sized SUV. You really can’t go wrong with any of the options we’ve listed. 

Check out our best SUV cars and best cars with a high driving position list for a round-up of our favourite big cars. Need something to keep the family happy? You need our best family cars. We've also gathered all of our current crossover SUV lease deals in one place to make your hunt for a good view of the road an easy one.