The modern supermini needs to tick plenty of boxes. It must be small enough to cope with congested city streets, comfortable on long motorway journeys, as safe as a larger family car, and packed with the latest technology. A case of super by name and super by nature, then?
We’ve chosen the best 10 small cars to buy in 2022, with our choices presented in alphabetical order.
The Audi A1 isn’t the cheapest supermini you can buy, but it pays to look beyond the purchase price. Even entry-level Technik trim features 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED rear lights, dynamic rear indicators, a ‘Virtual Cockpit’ driver display and an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Sport, S line, Black Edition and Vorsprung models are more lavish, and it’s easy to spend £30,000 on an A1 if you get carried away with the options list. However, the A1 is arguably at its best in its most basic form, which means it costs about the same as a top-spec Ford Fiesta.
We said: “Predictably, the interior is superb, with genuine wow-factor that’s rare in the supermini segment. Some of the plastics feel cheap, which makes it harder to justify the price of the more expensive versions, but gloss is added by the range of personalisation options. The A1 remains one of the most desirable cars in its class.”
Read our Audi A1 review
The Sandero is based on the current Renault Clio – another car in our top 10 – but costs considerably less. In fact, with prices from £11,245 (or £129 a month on finance), it’s the UK’s cheapest new car. There are just two trim levels, Essential and Comfort, but even the former comes with automatic LED headlights, cruise control, air conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth and electric front windows.
Most will opt for the 90hp 1.0-litre TCe petrol engine, which is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic. To save even more money, the 100hp Bi-Fuel version can run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). If you prefer your Sandero with a little off-road attitude, the Stepway version has chunky bumpers and added ground clearance.
The Dacia is practical, pleasant to drive and seriously good value. Its Achilles’ heel is a two-star crash rating from Euro NCAP (compared to the Clio’s five-star score), mainly due to a lack of active safety tech. This aside, the only way to get more supermini for your money is to buy used.
The Ford Fiesta lost its long-held title as the UK’s best-selling new car in 2021 – vanquished by the Vauxhall Corsa – but it remains one of our favourite superminis. There’s a Fiesta for everyone, from the affordable Fiesta Trend to the sporty Fiesta ST. There’s also a luxurious Vignale option, a rugged Active version and even a Fiesta Van.
Standard equipment is generous, with the entry-level Trend featuring 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, air conditioning, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get Ford’s Quickclear heated windscreen, which will come in handy on cold winter mornings.
Low running costs are guaranteed by a range of efficient petrol engines, some of which are enhanced by mild-hybrid technology.
We said: “The Fiesta is great to drive, regardless of spec. It’s the most entertaining supermini you can buy, thanks to sharp steering and a superb chassis. The ride is firm without being uncomfortable, although some buyers might find the ST a little harsh for daily use.”
Read our Ford Fiesta review
The Jazz has always felt like more than just a supermini. Its spacious interior and clever Magic Seats combine to create a car that’s able to muscle in on the family hatchback and small MPV segments. With the seats folded down, the Jazz offers a VW Golf-rivalling 1,205 litres of luggage space. Impressive stuff.
You can flip and fold the Magic Seats like collapsible dining room chairs, creating enough room in the back for a mountain bike. They also fold into the floor, turning the Jazz into something resembling a van.
This latest model features hybrid technology to deliver fuel economy of 62.7mpg and CO2 emissions of just 102g/km. There’s also a more rugged Jazz Crosstar, which features the styling of an SUV. The Jazz isn’t cheap, but consider its standard equipment, hybrid technology and likely reliability.
We said: “The surprise will come to those lumbered with the old one, which was an authentic Jazz in terms of looks and space, but built down to a budget that made it feel cheap. This one rectifies that. Better still, it brings in an ingenious hybrid drivetrain that really works. A worry-free electric car impersonator that you don’t even have to plug in.
“With perfect practicality, a back-up-to-scratch drive and a genuinely welcoming cabin, the allure of the Honda Jazz has returned at last.”
Read our Honda Jazz review
You might fancy the racy John Cooper Works GP, but even the most affordable Mini is great to drive. In fact, you don’t need to progress beyond the basic version to enjoy a Mini adventure.
Rear-seat accommodation and boot space are in short supply, even in the more practical five-door model, but most buyers fall in love with the Mini for its style, gilt-edged image and array of personalisation options. One and Cooper models are powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, while the Cooper S and John Cooper Works get a 2.0-litre motor producing 178hp and 231hp respectively. The Mini Cooper is our pick.
We said: “If you like the look of the Mini, you’ll love the way it drives and makes you feel. Sure, it’s expensive, but the cost is offset by slow depreciation and affordable finance options.”
Read our Mini Hatch review
The Clio might look like the old model, but evolutionary styling hides a revolution beneath the skin. It’s now good enough to challenge the Volkswagen Polo in terms of quality, and the Ford Fiesta in terms of how it drives. Little wonder it’s one of the most popular small cars in Europe.
There’s enough room inside for four adults, while a 391-litre boot is impressive for this size of car. Luggage capacity is reduced in diesel and hybrid versions, but the Clio remains competitive in terms of practicality. You even get a five-year warranty.
We said: “The 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol is the range sweet-spot, offering a terrific blend of punch and efficiency. The cabin is more upmarket than before, there’s a wealth of new technology and it’ll be cheap to run.”
Read our Renault Clio review
Like the Clio, the Skoda Fabia is a very grown-up and sensible supermini. Essentially it’s a Volkswagen Polo underneath, but with cheaper prices and plenty of neat ‘Simply Clever’ design features. Examples include an ice scraper inside the fuel flap and a pop-out umbrella within the door.
We’d avoid the weedy 80hp 1.0-litre petrol engine and go for the turbocharged 1.0 TSI instead. It’s available in 95hp and 110hp outputs – the latter with an optional automatic gearbox. The Fabia is roomy inside and has a practical boot. It also comes with the safety and infotainment technology you’d expect, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The Fabia majors on refinement and comfort rather than pin-sharp handling. It’s the kind of car that could fit effortlessly into your life. The Polo has a stronger image, but Skoda isn’t far behind. Aside from a lack of excitement – including the demise of the vRS hot hatch – there’s very little to complain about here.
All things considered, the stylish and reliable Toyota Yaris is possibly our favourite supermini of the moment. Even the entry-level Icon trim features 16-inch alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a reversing camera and a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist technology.
Power is sourced solely from an efficient 1.5-litre petrol hybrid drivetrain, which delivers between 57.6mpg and 68.8mpg, as well as offering pure electric power at speeds up to 80mph. One electric motor is used to drive the wheels, while the other one starts the car and charges the batteries.
We said: “The hybrid drive is terrific. It’s now genuinely able to deliver a sophisticated, EV-heavy, multi-mode experience with energetic response, refinement and superb economy. All without having to plug it in.”
Read our Toyota Yaris review.
Looking for the best value supermini? Look no further than the Vauxhall Corsa. It shares a platform and engines with the Peugeot 208, yet costs less than its French rival. Petrol and diesel engines are available, along with an all-electric Corsa-e, which offers a range of 209 miles.
Ultimate Nav trim is positively plush, with niceties such as a 10-inch touchscreen media system with sat-nav, adaptive cruise control, electronic climate control, a wireless phone charger and a driver’s seat massage function. But all versions of the Corsa are decently equipped.
We said: “The Corsa looks more upmarket than before, both inside and out. Rear-seat space is good and the 309-litre boot is class-competitive. It also drives like a bigger car, and boasts equipment that wouldn’t look out of place in the class above.”
Read our Vauxhall Corsa review
The Volkswagen Polo feels every inch the scaled-down Golf. All versions have a quality feel throughout, with power sourced from efficient 1.0-litre petrol engines. It’s a tad expensive, but the Polo’s image remains second to none.
The entry-level Polo Life features 15-inch alloy wheels, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air conditioning, cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. At the opposite end of the range, the Polo GTI is an underrated hot hatch.
We said: “The 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which injects the Polo with some added pep, would be our choice. It’s not cheap, but the price is offset by strong resale values and competitive finance deals.”
Read our Volkswagen Polo review
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Keyword: Best superminis to buy in 2022