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The best small cars to buy in 2019

  • The best small cars to buy in 2019
  • From BMW to Volkswagen, with monthly prices to suit all budgets
  • Do you want a petrol, hybrid or electric small car? 

Thinking of buying a new small car? There are plenty of city cars and superminis on the market these days, with a variety of styles and practicality. 

Small cars need to be practical despite their size, they need to be economical with space and offer options for storage and flexibility. There are so many small cars on the market - because so many people buy them - which means there's a lot of choice for you. Whether you're looking at the ever-popular Ford Fiesta and VW Polo, or alternatives such as the Smart Fortwo EQ and Renault Zoe, there are plenty to choose from. 

Deciding on buying a small car means you also have the choice between regular petrol and diesel cars, or alternative options such as hybrid or electric cars. If you're looking to get a city car for short journeys, then an alternative-fuel car might be the most cost-effective option for you over time. You might be paying more upfront, but with lower running costs and cheaper tax this might work out for the best for you. 

Browse through our list and see which characterful small car would suit your needs. Obviously you're not going to get a really roomy, practical family car from any of these choices, but there are some with decent-sized boots, and surprisingly roomy interiors too. Scroll down to read about them all, or click on the quick links below to jump to your favourites. 

1. BMW i3
2. Fiat 500
3. Ford Fiesta
4. Kia Picanto
5. MINI Hatchback 
6. Renault Zoe
7. SEAT Ibiza
8. Skoda Citigo
9. Smart Fortwo EQ
10. Suzuki Swift
11. Volkswagen Polo

1. BMW i3

BMW i3 electric small car

BMW's small electric car is a rival to the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, but is much more polished than either (and far pricier, too). Remember, with it being a low-emission electric car, you'll qualify for the government's plug-in car grant, which takes £3,500 off the list price. Its style is a bit futuristic, and the electric drive is smooth and easy - it's certainly one of the most interesting small cars on the market. 

New price: £35,180 - £39,670
Lease this car from new
Used price: £9,065 - £31,605
Insurance group: 21 - 29

Read our full BMW i3 review

2. Fiat 500

Fiat 500 - best small cars

If you want a city car that's full of character and retro style, then the Fiat 500 might be the best option for you. It's a big seller and deservedly popular. The engine is nippy but do remember that this is a really small car - the boot isn't big at all, and adults probably won't want to sit in the back seats for anything but a short drive. There are plenty of options to personalise your car with different colours and design elements, and the interior is suitably quirky. The basic styling remains from 2008 but it still feels fresh thanks to regular tech updates. 

New price: £12,015 - £15,865
Lease this car from new
Used price: £1,350 - £12,040
Fuel economy: 44 - 83 mpg
Insurance group: 5 - 15

Read our full Fiat 500 review

3. Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta - best small cars

Quite possibly still the best small hatchback around, even after all these years, the Fiesta remains popular with new and experienced drivers alike. It's great fun to drive, cheap to run, and has loads of the latest technology. The latest version is still roomy inside, although some of the materials don't feel as high-quality as some of its rivals on this list. 

New price: £15,670 - £22,790
Lease this car from new
Used price: £7,315 - £18,480
Fuel economy: 49 - 74 mpg
Insurance group: 2 - 15

Read our full Ford Fiesta review

4. Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto - the best small cars

The Picanto is the smallest Kia available, but comes packed with kit and a decent boot for its size. There are plenty of trim levels to choose from and three petrol engines, although they do need to be worked hard. It's a really rational choice - especially with Kia's seven-year warranty - but it's also one you can really enjoy driving. 

New price: £9,895 - £14,895
Lease this car from new
Used price: £5,440 - £11,695
Fuel economy: 47 - 64 mpg
Insurance group: 3 - 10 

Read our full Kia Picanto review
Read our triple test between the Picanto, Citigo, and Citroen C1

5. MINI Hatchback

MINI Hatchback - the best small cars

The MINI is such an icon that you couldn't compile a list of the best small cars without including it. It's fun to drive and all of the engines are impressive - this little car is rewarding to own and drive. It might not be the most practical car, and certainly isn't spacious, but if you're reading this list then you don't want roomy. If you want character, fun, and instantly recognisable brand power, then this is the city car for you. Traditionally an expensive choice, but competitive lease deals puts a MINI easily within reach for those on a tighter monthly budget.

New price: £16,195 - £29,995
Lease this car from new
Used price: £4,810 - £27,250
Fuel economy: 42 - 80 mpg
Insurance group: 11 - 33

Read our full MINI Hatchback review

6. Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe - the best small cars

This all-electric car is super quiet, with zero emissions and a claimed range of 250 miles. It's great for driving around town, with immediate acceleration, but it does tail away from the pack on the motorway. To look at the Zoe, you wouldn't realise this was any different from a standard small car. The ride height is a bit odd, though, and the ride isn't great - but for zero emissions, this is a winner. 

New price: £21,920 - £31,520
Lease this car from new
Used price: £7,720 - £20,585
Insurance group: 14 - 21 

Read our full Renault Zoe review

7. SEAT Ibiza

SEAT Ibiza - the best small cars

It was the winner of the Best First Car award in the Parkers New Car Awards 2019. It's sharp-looking, very practical, comes with lots of kit and is fun to drive, so it's no wonder we rate it so highly. There is genuine space for four adults inside, and the range of nippy, frugal engines is impressive. No longer can the Ford Fiesta rest on its laurels...

New price: £15,130 - £21,650
Lease this car from new
Used price: £7,180 - £16,560
Fuel economy: 55 - 74 mpg
Insurance group: 2 - 19

Read our full SEAT Ibiza review

8. Skoda Citigo

Skoda Citigo - the best small cars

Excellent value for money with this small car - the Skoda Citigo feels surprisingly grown up for its size. It shares underpinnings with its cousins, the Volkswagen Up and the SEAT Mii. Running costs are pleasingly low, and it is practical for its size. The interior quality is high, but there isn't a lot of personalisation available, especially compared to some of its rivals. 

New price: £8,890 - £11,890
Used price: £1,955 - £10,280
Fuel economy: 62 - 68 mpg
Insurance group: 1 - 4

Read our full Skoda Citigo review
Read our triple test between the Citigo, Picanto, and Citroen C1

9. Smart Fortwo EQ

Smart Fortwo EQ - the best small cars

The electric version of the Smart Fortwo is better than the petrol variety, in our opinion. It's super nippy around city roads, and the turning circle is tiny at just 6.95m. The claimed range is just 99 miles, which doesn't sound like much but if you want a small city car then you probably won't need a bigger range. 

New price: £12,115 - £16,045
Lease this car from new
Used price: £4,085 - £14,305
Fuel economy: 54 - 68 mpg
Insurance group: 2 - 12

Read our full Smart Fortwo review

10. Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift - the best small cars

If you want a sporty small car, consider the Swift; it's fun to drive, and there's a mild hybrid version too - although there's no three-door available. It's more economical than its predecessor, but the interior quality isn't quite as good as most rivals on this list. Try and spend a little extra to get one powered by the brilliant BoosterJet engine.

New price: £12,504 - £18,504
Lease this car from new
Used price: £6,520 - £14,840
Fuel economy: 50 - 65 mpg
Insurance group: 22 - 35 

Read our full Suzuki Swift review

11. Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo - the best small cars

One of the most spacious small cars on the market, the Polo is sophisticated with good looks and lots of technology. It's not the most exciting to drive, however, but it is easy to drive. The interior is high quality and vibrant if you add one of the colour packs to the dashboard trim and door cards, but you can have a more restrained colour scheme if you prefer. 

New price: £14,240 - £23,160
Lease this car from new
Used price: £9,305 - £19,760
Fuel economy: 46 - 76 mpg
Insurance group: 1 - 28 

Read our full Volkswagen Polo review 

Find more reviews of city cars

*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.