Best small car deals

Looking for something small and nippy to get you around town and further afield? Here are 10 of the best small cars available right now

John Evans Craig Hale
Jun 11, 2021

Looking for a car that's cheap, easy to run and even easier to drive? You might think you need an SUV, because that's what everyone else seems to be driving, but check out some of the small cars below and you’ll wonder why you ever wanted anything bigger. And whichever you choose, it'll cost you far less than even the smallest SUV.

The Hyundai i10 included on this list is a case in point. Despite being classed as a 'city car' due to its small dimensions, everything about it smacks of a car from the class above, perhaps even the class above that - it's comfy, well equipped and pleasant to drive to name just a few plus points - but it's still incredibly cheap.

For all their big-car qualities - including roomy interiors, good fit and finish, secure driving manners and nippy performance in many cases - all these cars still carry a small-car price, as you’ll discover when you click on the deals below. And if you don't want to spend a big chunk of cash, there are great value PCP finance options available, with monthly payments starting at well below £100 per month.

We’ve deliberately avoided obvious (and more expensive) models such as the Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio, and instead concentrated on cheaper alternatives. Cheaper, but no less impressive. For around £5,000 or £100 per month you could find yourself the perfect car that offers enough space for a small family with none of the excess cost that comes from SUV ownership.

Best small cars

1. Skoda Fabia

Best small car for grown-up quality

Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 SE
Used deals from £5,490
Monthly finance from £118*

The Skoda Fabia is closely related to the Volkswagen Polo and while its sister car might feel slightly more upmarket inside, the Fabia will do very nicely for most people - especially as it's the cheaper option. It's still very solidly built, reliable and practical. It’s also very roomy, making it a great car for the money.

This version was launched in 2014 and refreshed slightly in 2018. Our pick would be one of these later cars, powered by the more punchy 95hp petrol engine (there’s also a cheaper 75hp unit, but this isn't as suited to everyday driving on faster roads). SE trim raises the ambience a little with an upgraded stereo, sat-nav, good phone connectivity and rear parking sensors.

SKODA FABIA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Dacia Sandero

Best small car for value

Our pick Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe 90 Essential
Used deals from £4,499
Monthly finance from £97*

No roundup of cheap small cars would be complete without the Dacia Sandero - the UK's cheapest new car. It really is astonishing value for money, being as big and roomy as a supermini but priced at less than a smaller city car new. Go used and it really is fantastically affordable.

The Sandero is related to the previous-generation Renault Clio (a new Clio went on sale in late 2019) but despite being much cheaper, the Sandero is available with the same 90hp, 0.9-litre petrol engine. It’s a modern, turbocharged motor that offers strong enough acceleration through the gears and is economical, too.

You won't be getting the most desirable interior with the Dacia, but the mid-range Essential trim does at least have air-conditioning, electric front windows and a digital radio, making it a great value basic small car.

DACIA SANDERO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Toyota Yaris

Best small car for hybrid efficiency

Our pick Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid Icon
Used deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £149*

Options are aplenty with the Toyota Yaris - there are three- and five-door variants, as well as petrol and hybrid models to choose from. Despite its relatively small size, it actually goes up against bigger cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

Buy a 1.5-litre hybrid and you can expect up to around 70mpg, but the petrol engines are strong contenders too. Be aware of the 1.0-litre engine, which feels underpowered compared to the 1.3-litre engine.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Fiat Panda

Best small car for character

Our pick Fiat Panda 1.2 Pop
Used deals from £4,280
Monthly finance from £98*

The Fiat Panda is a great option for bargain hunters. As the Panda was launched a number of years back, it lacks the polish and appeal of more recent arrivals and as a result, tends to sell on price alone.

It deserves better since it’s a sparky little thing brimming with character, making it cheap but desirable. It’s also roomy and practical with lots of clever storage solutions and even a sliding rear seat. It’s most at home around town where its comfortable ride and good visibility are a real benefit.

You may think that Fiat doesn't make the most reliable cars. However, the Panda scores consistently well in the Auto Express Driver Power survey of owner satisfaction, so if you're after a stylish, sturdy but super-cheap option, it's well worth considering.

FIAT PANDA BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Skoda Citigo

Best small car for the city

Our pick Skoda Citigo 1.0 75 SE L GreenTech 5dr
Used deals from £4,795
Monthly finance from £95*

The Skoda Citigo is the cheapest of three related city cars, the others being the Volkswagen Up and Seat Mii. This new-car price advantage translates to low used prices, making the little Skoda exceptional value for money.

Only detail differences separate the three rivals; otherwise, go for the Skoda and you’ll enjoy the same 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine, roomy interior (the rear seats can comfortably accommodate a pair of adults) and tidy handling.

Our pick is SE L trim, a remarkably well-equipped version that packs in 14-inch alloy wheels, front foglights, air-conditioning, electric windows and even heated front seats. Interior quality on all trim levels is very good, with switches and controls being reassuringly Volkswagen-like in their feel and operation (Volkswagen is Skoda's parent company).

SKODA CITIGO BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Nissan Micra

Best small car for a low price

Our pick Nissan Micra 1.2 Acenta 5dr
Used deals from £4,499
Monthly finance from £89*

We could have chosen the latest Nissan Micra that launched in 2017 but if your goal is cheap transport then its predecessor on sale from 2010 to 2016 is well worth a look. It’s not the prettiest thing on four wheels and the interior looks and feels low rent, but it is spacious and reasonably well equipped.

Talking of which, we rate Acenta trim for its body-coloured door handles and mirrors, alloy wheels, interior chrome finishes, leather-covered steering wheel, and automatic lights and wipers.

Don’t expect the Micra to be the last word in agility around corners or offer the best ride comfort. The Micra is most at home in town where the good visibility it offers thanks to a high driving position and generous glass area, light steering and responsive controls really help.

NISSAN MICRA BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Seat Ibiza

Best small car for fun

Our pick Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 SE 5dr
Used deals from £4,990
Monthly finance from £112*

Like the Micra, here’s another ‘old’ model we couldn’t resist including in our round-up of good small cars. Launched in 2008, this version of the Seat Ibiza benefits from Volkswagen Polo underpinnings (much like the Skoda Fabia) that have stood the test of time very well, and used models around the 2015 mark ought not to feel too outdated in comparison to the latest 2017-on version.

It drives as well as its sporty looks suggest thanks to firm suspension and quick but communicative steering. The sloping roofline eats into rear headroom a little, though, so if you’re considering carrying tall adults back there, you may want to pick something else.

Equipment levels are good and because the Ibiza is geared towards younger drivers, there were a number of media system upgrades offered on new cars including Seat’s Easy Connect system, MediaSystem Plus and Seat Sound System that may be fitted to your chosen used one.

SEAT IBIZA BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Vauxhall Viva

Best small car for in-car media

Our pick Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SL 5dr
Used deals from £4,699
Monthly finance from £93*

Rather like the Suzuki Celerio, the Vauxhall Viva is an unpretentious car whose primary aim is to provide secure and comfortable transport in city centres. Out of town, it feels a little out of its depth compared with models like the impressive Hyundai i10, but then you could say that about many city cars.

The Skoda Citigo is roomier but two adults and a couple of small children will find the Viva perfectly comfortable. It’s easy to drive, too, thanks to light steering and good visibility.

SL specification brings welcome features including climate control, leather-effect seat trim and alloy wheels. One option to look out for is Vauxhall’s excellent 'IntelliLink' seven-inch touchscreen media system that can link to your phone.

VAUXHALL VIVA BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Hyundai i10

Best small car for all-round ability

Our pick Hyundai i10 1.0 SE 5dr
Used deals from £4,500
Monthly finance from £99*

Is the Hyundai i10 the best small car? It certainly boasts all the right ingredients for success including a well-proportioned interior that looks and feels good, secure handling and a comfortable ride, reasonably punchy engines and good reliability backed up by a five-year warranty from new.

Its other plus points include an ability to feel surprisingly at home beyond the city limits - even if you head onto the motorway. That it’s also great value for money makes this one of the absolute best city cars, one that actually feels like a larger, more expensive supermini. SE trim, our favourite, sits in the middle of the range and on top of S trim’s electric front windows and electronic safety aids, it adds air-conditioning, body-coloured handles and mirrors, and electric rear windows.

For a longer, seven-year warranty, go for a Kia Picanto. The chances of buying a second-hand car with remaining cover become more accessible with this model, which shares many of its mechanical parts with the Hyundai i10.

HYUNDAI I10 BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Renault Zoe

Best small car for electric power

Our pick Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav
Used deals from £6,458
Monthly finance from £126*

Despite their significant decrease in running costs compared to combustion-engined cars, electric cars are notoriously expensive to buy. While the current version of the Renault Zoe is pushing the £30,000 mark, the first generation was available significantly cheaper. It's also available with decent savings on BuyaCar, but be aware that some models don't include batteries, so you may have to rent these from Renault.

There's also the concern over range: today Renault promises over 200 miles, but the early models can barely reach 100. That's fine for most small car drivers, though, who rarely venture out of town. It's also unassuming - it may be silent, but it doesn't shout about being an electric car like a BMW i3.

It's also incredibly well equipped. Go for the widely available Dynamique Nav model and expect a hands-free keycard, automatic lights and wipers, parking sensors sensors, a reversing camera, and a seven-inch touchscreen.

RENAULT ZOE BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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