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
Apr 30, 2020

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 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 and low cost, 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.

However, 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 top 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 £4,398
Monthly finance from £89

The Skoda Fabia is closely related to the VW 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 Essential
Used deals from £4,299
Monthly finance from £84

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 old-model Renault Clio (an all-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. Suzuki Celerio

Best small car for interior space in a small footprint

Our pick Suzuki Celerio SZ3 1.0
Used deals from £4,490
Monthly finance from £88

The Suzuki Celerio is a capable and unpretentious city car that’s also great value for money. It doesn't have the image (or price tag) of better-known city cars such as the Volkswagen Up but if you’re looking for a little more interior space and even better reliability, then the Celerio is well worth a look.

It’s a smart-looking car with an upright, boxy shape that’s extremely space efficient. It’s also particularly well equipped in our preferred SZ2 trim with a digital radio, a 60:40 split-fold rear seat and a height-adjustable driver’s seat all on the menu. That said, SZ3, with features including air-conditioning and alloy wheels, costs only a little more used, so you may want to go for one of these.

SUZUKI CELERIO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Fiat Panda

Best small car for character

Our pick Fiat Panda 1.2 Pop
Used deals from £4,233
Monthly finance from £86

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 £4,195
Monthly finance from £82

The Citigo is the cheapest of three related city cars, the others being the VW Up and Seat Mii. This new-car price advantage translates into 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 VW-like in their feel and operation.

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 £4,695
Monthly finance from £90

We could have chosen the all-new Micra 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 £4,250
Monthly finance from £87

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 VW Polo underpinnings 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 £4,795
Monthly finance from £82

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 - below - but then you could say that about many city cars.

The Skoda Citigo - above - 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' 7.0-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 £4,390
Monthly finance from £89

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.

HYUNDAI I10 BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Kia Picanto

Best small car for boot space

Our pick Kia Picanto 2 5dr
Used deals from £4,250
Monthly finance from £87

We said that the Hyundai i10 was a contender for top small car honours but the Picanto, which is closely related to it, runs it close with a design that’s more striking and memorable, if not quite so grown up. Not only that but the model also boasts a longer warranty from new - seven years rather than five.

This means that if you buy a three-year old version you'll still have four years' warranty rather than two as you would with an equivalent i10. The Picanto is slightly smaller than the i10, at least on the outside, making parking even easier. However, between the wheels, it’s just as long so that the interior is equally roomy. In fact, the boot is actually slightly bigger and the largest in the class.

Plump for 2 trim, our pick, and you’ll benefit from Bluetooth, 14-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning and electric windows all-round. With quirky styling but that long warranty and low prices, the Picanto should appeal to your head and your heart.

KIA PICANTO BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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