Comfortable small cars

Need a small car but want to stay comfy on the commute? Here are our picks - whether small to you means a city car to a compact crossover

Sam Naylor
Jan 14, 2021

Small cars are hugely popular in the UK. Our tight city streets, narrow country roads and tiny parking spaces mean that British buyers tend to stick to the smaller cars on the market - the sales charts are full of superminis and small SUVs.

However, it’s not always easy to tell which of these cars is going to be comfortable before you buy. Small cars are built to a budget, so often use cheaper suspension parts or seats, which means they can sometimes be uncomfortable.

However, we’ve driven a wide variety of small cars and come up with the eight models you’ll find below that are both compact but comfy. Each one is comfortable first and foremost, and able to take on the pothole-filled roads around the UK without breaking your back.

They won’t break the bank either, as we’ve also factored in value for money and other core features such as practicality, fuel economy and in-car tech. We’ve tried to give a wide spread of small cars - from tiny city cars to small SUVs - to cater for all sorts of small car drivers.

That means you should be able to spot a model that’s right for you. If you decide you need something a little bigger, we also have articles covering some larger cars with comfortable seats and a run-down of models with seats certified to help against back pain.

Read on for our picks of the most comfortable affordable small cars.

Most comfortable small cars

1. Volkswagen Up

Best comfortable small car for value for money

Our pick Volkswagen Up High Up 5dr
Used deals from £6,599
Monthly finance from £132*

If we were to recommend just one small, comfortable car, the Volkswagen Up would be it. It’s a tiny city car, yet it’s as comfortable as some much larger and more luxurious cars. It’s also much more practical than you’d expect, with room for four adults inside.

The reason it’s such a great choice is the cost - it’s just fantastic value for money. There are two other versions of the car, the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii, which are virtually identical, so look for deals on each one and pick the one that looks best to you.

The Up is fantastic at soaking up bumpy city streets, but it’s also perfectly at home on the motorway, if you can plan ahead when picking up speed - the 1.0-litre petrol engine isn’t very powerful. However there’s a big upside to that: fuel bills are cheap, as is insurance, and young drivers should have no trouble getting cover on one. Unless you really need something bigger, the Up is a top comfy choice.

VOLKSWAGEN UP BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mazda CX-3

Best comfortable small car for style

Our pick Mazda CX-3 2.0 SE Nav
Used deals from £10,695
Monthly finance from £210*

If you want a great-looking high-riding SUV that’s small and comfortable, the Mazda CX-3 could be the car for you. It has a great driving position and comfy seats, and the suspension soaks up lumps and bumps very well.

The CX-3 also happens to be very enjoyable to drive - it’s one of the most fun SUVs around. The manual gearbox in particular is a delight. Its 2.0-litre petrol engine might seem large in size, but it’s just as, if not more, efficient than the smaller-capacity motors in alternative small SUVs.

The trade-off here is that there’s not as much room in the back seats and boot as some alternatives, such as the Citroen C3 Aircross (which is another very comfortable small SUV, although it's much less sporty to drive than the CX-3). The Mazda is still practical enough for a small family, though.

MAZDA CX-3 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. BMW i3

Best comfortable small car for worry-free electric motoring

Our pick BMW i3 Range Extender (2014)
Used deals from £18,199
Monthly finance from £274*

If you’re looking for a small, comfortable electric car, the BMW i3 is a fantastic choice. It was developed using cutting-edge technology and still feels every bit as modern as it did in 2014. It has supportive seats and drives down bumpy roads very smoothly.

The i3 is a rare electric car that is available with something called a range extender setup. This features a small petrol engine that kicks in to keep the electric motor going if the batteries run out of charge. That means that filling up the petrol tank can boost the car’s 100-mile electric range by 80 miles or so. So, while the i3 has a fairly short range in total, you can simply top up the fuel tank at a petrol station as many times as you need to get you home.

This is something that many will feel makes the idea of an electric car much more palatable - there’s no range anxiety about running out of charge, as you can simply fill the car with petrol whenever needed and be sure of another 80 miles to make it to a charging station. Yes, you'll be burning petrol if you do this, so the car is not as green as if you finished under electric power, but having the choice is handy. More than this, though, the fact the i3 is great to drive, practical and has a superb interior are all bonuses.

BMW I3 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Citroen C4 Cactus

Best left-field comfortable small car

Our pick Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech Flair
Used deals from £7,495
Monthly finance from £161*

The Citroen C4 Cactus might not be a traditional-looking car, with its curvy shapes and rubber side pods. It’s a car that took Citroen back to its roots, as a company producing innovative but slightly odd cars at bargain prices.

The C4 Cactus is deserving of a spot in this list because Citroen was brave enough to step away from any notion of the car being sporty, and focus solely on comfort. The C4 Cactus isn’t bad to drive, but it’s not very exciting - yet in doing so it’s very comfortable and glides smoothly over bumps and potholes.

The seats are more like armchairs than car seats, and they are a good match for the car’s on-road comfort. They’re soft and easy to sink into but might not have the side support for keener drivers - so if you do want something to drive fast around corners, you might have to sacrifice a little comfort and get something with stiffer suspension. The rest of the package is very appealing: it’s very practical, great value and the 1.2-litre petrol engine is pretty economical.

CITROEN C4 CACTUS BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Ford B-Max

Best comfortable small car for family practicality

Our pick Ford B-Max 1.0 EcoBoost 125 Titanium X
Used deals Limited stock

The Ford Fiesta would be a superb choice as a small, comfortable car. However, you’ve probably already considered one of those as it’s one of the most common cars in Britain, so how about a slightly bigger B-Max instead?

The B-Max is based on the Fiesta, so it’s just as comfortable and good to drive. It has the same lineup of excellent engines including the economical and fun EcoBoost 1.0-litre petrol, too, which may be small but is turbocharged to boost power. Yet the B-Max is much more practical thanks to its larger size and innovative door design.

It’s more of a people carrier than a hatchback because the rear doors slide back, and there’s no central pillar between front and rear doors, so access to the back seats is superb. It makes fitting car seats, and getting the kids in and out, really easy. The B-Max is often overlooked but it’s a great choice for those who simply want a comfy, practical family car.

FORD B-MAX BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Suzuki Baleno

Best comfortable small car for practicality in a tiny package

Our pick Suzuki Baleno 1.0 Boosterjet SZ-T
Used deals Limited stock

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: yes, the Suzuki Baleno is a dull-looking car. If you can get over that, though, there’s a hidden gem underneath. It’s based on the Suzuki Swift, too, so there’s always that if you prefer the looks, as it’s just as comfy.

The Baleno is our pick, though, because it’s much more practical. There’s an astonishing amount of room in the back seats and a huge boot for a small car, so it’s really practical. The interior is a bit cheap-looking but again, if you can ignore that then you can appreciate the decent in-car tech and comfy seats.

The little Suzuki has another secret hidden by its plain image, too. It’s great fun to drive - the turbocharged 1.0-litre engine is enjoyable to use, it has lots of grip around corners and performance is surprisingly good as well. The Baleno really is a hidden gem of a small car.

SUZUKI BALENO BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Kia e-Niro

Best comfortable small car for low running costs

Our pick Kia e-Niro 64kWh First Edition
Used deals Limited stock

If you’re ready to dive into electric car ownership, the Kia e-Niro is currently one of the best choices out there. It’s a bit bigger than some of the cars on this list but that means it’s also more practical.

The e-Niro can manage 280 miles on a single charge (in 64kWh form), which is really impressive for a car that is powered by just batteries, with no petrol or diesel engine as a backup. It means you can go to work all week without needing to top up, provided you don't have a particularly long commute. This will cut down on running costs versus a petrol or diesel car by a huge amount.

It’s not amazing value at the moment, as it was only released a few years back, so there are few used models available so far. However, if you can afford it, the e-Niro is a great car in many ways other than because of its electric motor: it’s practical, packed with tech and above all, very comfortable.

KIA NIRO BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Skoda Scala

Best comfortable small car for all-round ability

Our pick Skoda Scala 1.0 TSI SE
Used deals from £17,350
Monthly finance from £257*

The Skoda Scala is a budget family car with loads of room inside for a very low price. Crucially for its inclusion in this list, though, it’s also really comfortable. It has all the ingredients: soft but supportive seats, a good driving position and supple suspension that soaks up lumps and bumps in the road.

The Scala is about the same size as a Volkswagen Golf, and it actually uses similar components despite being significantly cheaper like-for-like. The turbocharged 1.0-litre engine, for example, is shared with the Golf and works very well, offering low running costs and good performance.

Technology is great too: the Scala has a large touchscreen media system on the dashboard that can hook up to your phone using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, so you can use your phone for media and navigation easily. The Scala is another model on this list that might not be the most stylish car out there, but is such a good all-rounder that we can easily forgive it for that.

SKODA SCALA 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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