What is a supermini?

Bigger than city cars, but smaller than family hatchbacks. We explain what superminis are

James Wilson
Feb 5, 2019

Contrary to what the name might lead you to believe, a supermini is not the smallest type of car in the UK. That would be a city car.

Put simply, a supermini is a small type of hatchback that is larger than a city car, but smaller than a family-sized hatchback.

Superminis include the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift, and Vauxhall Corsa.

To give an indication of size, a VW up! is a city car, a VW Polo is a supermini, and a VW Golf is a family-sized hatchback.

There are currently 32622 superminis available on BuyaCar. Prices start at £4,133 and finance costs from £75 per month.


What are the defining characteristics of a supermini?

A supermini is a fairly easy car to spot. It will have three or five doors, be relatively small in size, but as mentioned above, not tiny. The boot will be a hatch, meaning it opens upwards and also grants access to both the boot and interior.

It will have very little body extending beyond the wheels. This makes the most out of the interior space, as this is normally limited to within the wheelbase of a car i.e. distance between the front and rear wheels.

In the UK superminis are popular because they are great value, cheap to run, reliable, fairly practical and can offer a fun driving experience. The fact the Ford Fiesta has been the best selling car in the UK for years is very much evidence to support this.

You can get performance superminis as well. They are commonly referred to as hot hatches. These are fitted with more powerful engines than standard superminis and have more sporty styling. Examples include the Ford Fiesta ST, Audi S1 and Abarth 595.

Reasons to buy a supermini

✔  Low running costs
✔  Reliable and simple to fix
✔  Can be fun to drive

Reasons not to buy a supermini 

Small boot and interior compared to family-sized hatcbacks
Not as comfortable as larger cars
Generally not great on motorways  

What to look for when buying a supermini

  • Euro NCAP crash test rating: Euro NCAP is a crash test expert and rates how safe a car is. The tests are different depending on the size of a car, with larger cars having harder tests. With this in mind, you want to make sure the supermini you are looking at has a great safety rating – especially if you will be transporting kids in the back. What is Euro NCAP?
  • Emissions: thanks to a shake-up of the car taxation rules, buying an older car could actually save you money when it comes to VED (car tax).
  • Folding seats: in a relatively small car, being able to fold some of the rear seats instead of all of them is incredibly useful, especially on trips to your household waste recycling centre.
  • Warranty: if you are buying a nearly new car you should be able to snag a bargain with a warranty. Kia offers an industry leading 7-year warranty, but many manufacturers only cover their cars for the first three years of its life.
  • Transmission: superminis are perfectly suited to manual gearboxes, thanks largely to their small rev-happy engines. While automatic superminis are better than ever, it is good to test drive the auto versions to make sure you can live with it before you buy. 



Read more about:

Latest jargon busters

  1. Electric car glossary: Electric Vehicle (EV) jargon busted

  2. What is horsepower?

  3. What is voice control?

What our customers say