The competition in the small car market is hotter than ever these days. Thatâ€™s good for buyers in one way, because the quality and ownership propositions in this segment have never been higher.
On the downside, it makes choosing one a lot more difficult. Itâ€™s all relative, of course. The fact is that there are few duff small cars now. Whichever one you choose, youâ€™re unlikely to be disappointed.
Still, thereâ€™s no harm in knowing how road testers rate small cars in an overall pecking order. Weâ€™ve come up with a list of class leaders taking in the factors of price; comfort, both in town at low speeds and on the motorway at higher ones; equipment levels; having enough boot space to take care of the weekly shop; and having enough practicality to deal with family needs.
10.Â Honda Jazz
If youâ€™ve ever wanted something more than a small car but less than a mini-MPV, the Jazz fits the bill with generous room, great cabin design with super-practical fold-up rear seats, and superb reliability. Only the slightly jiggly ride jars a bit.
Best model to go for: 1.3 i-VTEC SE
9.Â Renault Clio
British buyers have been putting their money into Clios for decades, and it still makes sense for them to do so in 2018. VWâ€™s Polo and Fordâ€™s Fiesta beat it on refinement but Renaultâ€™s 1.5 diesel is a cracker. Thereâ€™s decent room inside and you can play around with customisation options that should distract you from the not-so-premium feeling materials.
Best model to go for: 1.5 dCi 90 Dynamique Media Nav.
8.Â Audi A1
Offering fine engines, ultra-premium trim and a perky drive, the A1 does a great job of replicating the Audi â€˜feelâ€™ in condensed form. The five-door Sportback version provides enough space for two adults in the back, but if you need top-notch practicality there are better choices.
Best model to go for: 1.4 TFSI 125 Sport
7.Â Mini hatchback
For top-end supermini fun, the Mini is a good choice, especially in Cooper form where a cracking engine comes together with loads of technology and a bewildering array of personalisation options.
Best model to go for: 1.5T Cooper Chili Media 5dr
6.Â Volkswagen Polo
Thereâ€™s something for everyone in the new Polo range, but weâ€™d advise you to ignore the dearer models in favour of one powered by the efficient 1.2-litre petrol engine. Youâ€™ll still get the high-class interior, an 8.0-in touchscreen and (in Match trim) a generous kit bundle.
Best model to go for: 1.2 90 Match 5dr
5.Â Kia Rio
Maybe not such an obvious choice but the Rioâ€™s practicality and pricing makes it a pukka entrant in the top half of our list. New models have a lively turbocharged engine and automatic emergency braking as standard. Don’t bother with the â€˜1â€™ trim level: in the â€˜2â€™ spec you get a touchscreen infotainment system and USB charging points front and rear.
Best model to go for: 1.0 T-GDi 99 2
4.Â Hyundai i20
If space and value are high on your wish list, the Hyundai i20 merits strong consideration. Its cabin makes others seem poky, even if the material quality isn’t class-leading. Its turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol goes well though.
Best model to go for: 1.0 T-GDi 100 Turbo Edition
3.Â Skoda Fabia
A multiple award winner, the Fabia packages up practicality, good pricing and refinement with excellent driving manners. The quality is right up there with the best and the 1.2 TSI scores over 60mpg in official testing.
Best model to go for: 1.2 TSI 90 SE
2.Â Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta is Britainâ€™s best-selling car because it shows that one car really can do most things that people want: strong and economical Ecoboost petrol engines, brilliant driving characteristics and appealing pricing (after discounts). The latest Fiestaâ€™s cabin has a posh feel and cutting-edge touchscreen infotainment.
Best model to go for: 1.0T Ecoboost 140 ST-Line 5dr
1.Â Seat Ibiza
The new Ibiza is quite simply the best small car you can buy in the UK right now. Even the â€˜slowerâ€™ 94bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine has plenty of get up and go, thereâ€™s stacks of room inside and depreciation should be low. With no obvious weaknesses, itâ€™s our number one choice.
Best model to go for: 1.0 TSI 95 FR