The best small cars to buy in 2022

  • Parkers picks: Our favourite small cars currently on the market
  • Ranging from budget-friendly to hot hatch heaven
  • Cheap to buy, easy to park, inexpensive servicing

Stylish, smart and often sporty, small cars are great for most drivers given their appealing price-points, ease of parking and lower maintenance costs. Ideal for singles, couples and younger families, superminis and city cars are suitable to navigate the daily needs of most people. 

From the long-respected Ford Fiesta and eternally reliable Yaris to the fabulous Fiat 500 and top all-rounder Clio, these small cars are ideal for nipping in and around urban areas and are comfortable enough for longer journeys up the motorway. It's not surprising that such cars are more common among driving instructors, and their graduates.

The cabins of small cars have been given a do-over too. No more chintzy plastic-looking mouldings. There are some sweet, aesthetically pleasing stitching into quality materials these days, that coupled with glossy centre console interfaces and a respectable variety of audio choices—including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay—make a decent household runaround.

>> Search for small car leasing deals

Small cars also lend themselves well to electric mobility. Though some of the EV choices are a bit on the expensive side, the secondhand market for used electric cars is growing.

>> Need an automatic? These are the best small automatic cars you can buy
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Best small cars 2022

1. Ford Puma 
2. Peugeot 208
3. Ford Fiesta
4. Volkswagen Up
5. Renault Zoe
6. SEAT Ibiza
7. MINI Hatch
8. Toyota Yaris
9. Hyundai i10
10.Renault Clio


1. Ford Puma

The best small SUV

Pros:
✅ Smooth mild-hybrid systems
✅ Very practical

Cons:
Cabin doesn't feel special

Ford Puma

The award-winning Ford Puma is the biggest car on this list, but it’s still pretty small for an SUV. Many may bemoan the Puma name – previously used on a Fiesta-based coupe – being used on an SUV, but look past that and you’ll find a car that’s very practical and immensely good to drive.

A series of mild hybrid engines bring good performance, and the Puma’s high-set seating position and chunky styling are very in vogue. If you fancy a crossover with a small footprint, we reckon this is one of the best. So much so, the Ford Puma was the 2021 Parkers Car of the Year and Small Family Car of The Year, retaining the latter title in 2022, too.**

Price new: from £20,745
Leasing price: from £268 per month
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2. Peugeot 208

Great-looking with a fab cabin

Pros:
Amazing interior
Petrol, diesel, or electric

Cons:
Can be pricey

2019 Peugeot 208

Like the Clio below, the Peugeot 208 comes very highly rated with a compact but impressive range of engines and good on-road manners. Peugeot’s unique styling and high levels of build quality conspire to make a cabin that’s a true pleasure to sit in. It’s also ideal if you need an automatic car – we think the optional eight-speed auto is the best supermini self-shifter on the market.

The 208 is also available as the all-electric e-208 – capable of more than 200 miles on a single charge. With a price tag on the high side, it won't suit every budget. Yet, for those who can fork out, it proves a really persuasive prospect for transitioning to electric power.**

Price new: from £18,110
Leasing price:
 from £285 per month
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3. Ford Fiesta

The ubiquitous best-seller

Pros:
Fantastic to drive
Wide range of engines and trims

Cons:
No proper hybrid or electric versions
Cabin feels old now

2019 Ford Fiesta Trend front

Two mild-hybrids engines are the extent of the electrification of the Ford Fiesta to date. Though the car's size will lend itself well to full electrification in the future, every other facet of motoring is just about covered by this supermini. Is it any wonder it's the bestselling car in the UK? Not really. Entry-level models (like the Trend model pictured) are well priced and cheap to run, but if you want a bit of luxury there’s a range-topping Vignale model.

Fan of SUV styling? You can have a Fiesta Active, with jacked-up suspension and body cladding. And of course, we can’t forget the ST, which is our favourite hot hatchback – so good, we awarded it our Car of the Year gong for 2019. Regardless of which Fiesta you opt for, they’re united by the best driving experience you’ll find in a small car.**

Price new: from £16,620
Leasing price: from £244 per month
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4. Volkswagen Up

The half-sized hero

Pros:
Genuinely tiny
Super-efficient

Cons:
Larger cars aren't much more expensive
Base models very slow

Best small cars - Volkswagen Up

Our next range is another one that offers quite a wide choice. You can have your Volkswagen Up with a 60hp, 1.0-litre petrol engine, and that’s the route most buyers will take. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s an effervescent little thing, more than happy to keep up with traffic, but those wanting a bit more grunt can go one of two ways.

>> Watch our video review of the Volkswagen Up GTI here

First there’s the all-electric e-Up – with a range of 186 miles on a full charge and impressive performance. Or, there’s the 115hp Up GTI, which has a character rather like a little puppy: well-meaning, full of energy and incredible fun. All of these three models benefit from Volkswagen build quality. There's an impressive level of interior space for such a small car, too.**

Price new: from £13,250
Leasing price: from £215 per month
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5. Renault Zoe

The best small electric car

Pros:
Great range for a small EV
Smart and practical interior

Cons:
Not everyone is ready for electric motoring
Driving position awkward

2020 Renault Zoe side

Unlike the Clio later in this list, Renault’s Zoe is all-electric, all the time, and it’s all the better for it – providing a really accessible driving experience in a practical package. The Zoe looks almost exactly like a conventional supermini, with only a slightly high seating position and EV-specific instruments giving it away.

With more than 250 miles available on a full charge, opting for a Zoe need be no less convenient than a petrol car. What's more, if you charge up at home and don’t do extreme distances, you may never have to trouble a public charging bay. There's always the handy ZipCharge Go too; a new portable power bank for your electric vehicle, designed to mitigate range anxiety.**

>> We ran a long-term Renault Zoe - check out our thoughts here

Price new: from £30,095
Leasing price: from £273 per month
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6. SEAT Ibiza

The Polo's stylish cousin

Pros:
Very practical
Former Parkers award-winner

Cons:
Drab interior
Not that cheap to run

Seat Ibiza

A smaller version of the Leon, the SEAT Ibiza ticks all boxes on a driver's wishlist; practicality, reliability, desirability, affordability and operability. A former Parkers First Car of the Year award winner, the Ibiza offers Volkswagen build quality without the higher Volkswagen price, plus a really great range of engines and gearboxes.

With loads of space for adults in the rear and a massive boot that will dwarf the weekly shop, the Ibiza lends itself brilliantly to a range of lifestyles; family, busy, sporty, hobby. Needless to say, it's really impressive.**

>> We ran a long-term SEAT Ibiza - check out our thoughts here

Price new: from £16,790
Leasing price: from £206 per month
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7. MINI Hatch

Small cars don't come more stylish than this

Pros:
Great fun to drive
Infinitely personalisable

Cons:
Not very practical
Expensive

Best small cars - MINI Hatch

The Mini is the most recognisable small car of all time. Though the current model may be a lot bigger physically, the essence of the MINI personality hasn't been lost in the redesign. In fact, today’s version remains a standout hit thanks to its classic pastiche looks and impressively agile handling.

>> We ran a long-term MINI Cooper S - check out our thoughts here

With a vast array of personalisation options and engines ranging from sedate to superb, there’s a Mini to suit everyone. You can have one with three or five doors, depending on your needs, and there’s a MINI Electric available too if you have ambitios ideas and a decent wedge to spend on going carbon-free.**

Price new: from £28,500
Leasing price: from £246 per month
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8. Toyota Yaris

Hybrid-only and all the better for it

Pros:
Very efficient
Great to drive

Cons:
Small
Infotainment not the best

Toyota Yaris - best small cars 2020

It’s fair to say the previous Toyota Yaris was pretty underwhelming in comparison with stiff competition, lacking in quality, performance and outright desirability. The Japanese firm has very much fixed that with its latest take on the supermini though, propelling it back up to the leading pack. 

If fuel consumption is a major concern, it’s hard to beat the Toyota Yaris. This is due to its sophisticated hybrid system, more than the mild hybrid of the Fiesta, this 'self-charging' hybrid offers pure-electric mileage, which a mild hybrid can't. A fresh look and 0% APR finance deals make it a serious attraction on the forecourt.

Price new: from £20,210
Leasing price: from £217 per month
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9. Hyundai i10

The grown-up small car

Pros:
Amazingly spacious
Lots of equipment

Cons:
Three-star Euro NCAP score

2020 Hyundai i10

The latest Hyundai i10 doesn’t exactly do anything new with the city car formula, but it improves it in almost every way. Think a tiny car can’t be spacious? You’ll find more room in the back seats of the i10 than in many cars from the class above.

You won’t have to suffer without all the luxury equipment you’ve got used to in your large car, either – the i10 can be had with an impressive connected infotainment system and more safety kit than you can shake a stick at. In fact, just about the only thing you’ll have to deal with is a weedy engine – but both options are more than enough if you go gently.**

Price new: from £12,820
Leasing price: from £192 per month
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10. Renault Clio

The best all-round small car

Pros:
Looks great
Bargain price

Cons:
Cramped rear seats

Renault Clio

An excellent supermini, the Renault Clio is a multiple Parkers award winner, earning recognition as the best First Car of the Year in 2020, 2021 and 2022. We are particularly wowed by its interior, which blends high-end tech into a package that’s familiar, easy to use and spacious. It’s also extremely well-priced, with some really tempting finance packages on offer.

The Clio’s engine line-up includes a diesel, which we don’t recommend, and a hybrid, which we do. The bulk of the range consists of two turbocharged petrols, which are smooth, refined and powerful. A generous list of standard safety equipment and fuel economy of more than 50mpg from most models make it a fine all-rounder – and there’s loads of space in the boot for all your kit and clobber.**

Price new: from £17,400
Leasing price: from £192 per month
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** 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.