Top ten: Best small cars of 2017

Top ten: Best small cars of 2017
Top ten: Best small cars of 2017

Why spend more than you need to when the little ‘uns are this good?

Manufacturers in the small car market are really up against it. That’s because the class standards are so high, and there’s no point having the worst car in the class, so they have to put a lot of time and effort into making sure that their offering is competitive.

As a result, there are a lot of good cars in the small car class. Whittling them down to the ten best is not easy. We’ve put together a list which picks up on the small car ‘must-haves’: comfort on both city roads and motorways, a good amount of equipment, sufficient boot space for shopping, a cabin that is capable of dealing with the requirements of a modern family, and attractive pricing.

10. Honda Jazz 1.3 i-VTEC SE

The Jazz is a great halfway house between a small car and a small MPV. Space and practicality are both excellent thanks to its clever ‘magic seats’, and the car’s reliability is top notch. Only a slightly jittery ride detracts from the experience.

9. Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Dynamique Media Nav

In terms of engine quietness the Clio isn’t quite up there with the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, but the 1.5 diesel we recommend is a peach. Some areas of the cabin can feel a bit undercooked in quality but there’s a decent amount of space.

8. Audi A1 1.4 TFSI 125 Sport

If it’s classy you want, nothing beats the A1. It’s just like a big Audi, minimised. The engine choice is good too, and so is the drive. The five-door Sportback is the best version if you need reasonable rear-seat comfort for two adults.

7. Mini hatchback 1.5T Cooper Chili Media 5dr

Like the A1, the Mini is another stylish, high-end option offering lots of tech. It also offers lots of opportunities for owners to add their own mark. The Cooper version comes with an excellent engine.

6. Volkswagen Polo 1.2 90 Match 5dr

You’ll pay more for a VW Polo than for many other superminis, but devotees are happy to do so in exchange for its smart, well-built feel inside and its wide range of engines and trims. We’d leave the more expensive models in favour of a cheaper to buy (and run) 1.2-litre petrol Match.

5. Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDi 99 2

If you’re spurning the Rio on a badge snobbery basis you’re doing yourself a disservice as the latest version is light years better than earlier models, with sprightly engines, touchscreen infotainment, plenty of practicality and sharp pricing too.

4. Hyundai i20 1.0 T-GDi 100 Turbo Edition

For interior space in a small footprint the Hyundai i20 is tough to beat. Yes, some of the cabin trim has a low-rent look and feel to it, but the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine is bright and the value for money is good.

3. Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE

Fine materials, well assembled: that’s the foundation of the Fabia’s case. On top of that you can add low running costs (over 60mpg from the 1.2 petrol), appealing pricing and a nice blend of refinement and composure in use.

2. Ford Fiesta 1.0T 100 Ecoboost 140 ST-Line 5dr

This is the UK’s best-selling car. It does very little wrong. The driving experience is brilliant, with punchy, quiet and low-consumption Ecoboost petrol engines and super handling. The new model has a posher feel than the old one, helped by a contemporary touchscreen infotainment system, and the usual Ford discounts are easy to achieve.

1. Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 FR

The new Ibiza is quite simply the best small car you can buy. It’s a smashing drive, even with the lower-powered 94bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, and it has loads of interior space. It’s a bit dearer than the Skoda Fabia but it will depreciate more slowly. For the best combination of practicality and value it’s a clear winner.

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