The best small cars to buy in 2022

  • Parkers picks: Our favourite small cars on sale now
  • Choices ranging from budget-friendly to hot hatch heaven
  • All are cheap to buy, easy to park and inexpensive to maintain

Small cars. They’re great for singles, couples and anybody who wants to minimise their running costs. They’re loved for their cheap purchase prices, low maintenance costs and compact dimensions (which makes them very easy to park). We’ve rounded up the best dinky runabouts on sale today, giving you an informed glimpse at the market.

The supermini and city car markets have shrunk dramatically in the past couple of decades, as buyers have gradually moved into larger SUVs and crossovers. But there’s still a good bunch of new small cars out there, including the sharp-driving Ford Fiesta, the fashion-focused Fiat 500 and the eternally reliable Toyota Yaris.

They’re ideal for nipping around towns and cities – and manufacturers have even figured out how to make them bearable on longer motorway journeys, which is more than can be said of the small cars from the turn of the century. So, it’s not surprising that they’re common amongst driving instructors and their graduates.

Manufacturers have also made rapid progress with the interiors of their superminis. Gone are the cheap plastic dashboards and poor quality trim of the 1990s. Nowadays, drivers can have a similar level of equipment as some of the most expensive cars on sale, with clever infotainment systems, climate control, fancy stereos and niceties such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available (if you’re prepared to spend the extra cash).

>> Search for small car leasing deals

Small cars also lend themselves well to electric mobility, mostly because they’re so light. Some of the EV choices are a bit on the expensive side, (such as the Honda e) but the secondhand market for electric cars is growing.

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Best small cars 2022

1. Ford Puma 
2. Peugeot 208
3. Ford Fiesta
4. Skoda Fabia
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
✅ Great to drive

Cons:
Cabin doesn’t feel special
❌ Infotainment isn’t that 
intuitive

Ford Puma: Best small cars

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 sports coupe – being nailed to the boot of an SUV. But, if you can look past that, you’ll find a car that’s very practical and immensely good fun 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 £23,645
Leasing price: from £228 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
❌ Ride is quite firm

2019 Peugeot 208

Like the Clio below, the Peugeot 208 comes very highly rated. It’s compact, available with an impressive range of engines and has good on-road manners. Peugeot’s unique styling and excellent 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 self-shifting supermini on the market.

The 208 is also available with a pure-electric powertrain, badged e-208. It’s capable of covering more than 200 miles on single charge – and, while the price is a little on the high side (starting from more than £30,000), it makes an excellent choice for drivers hampered by congestion charges and clean air zones.**

Price new: from £18,655
Leasing price:
 from £278 per month
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3. Ford Fiesta

The ubiquitous former bestseller

Pros:
Fantastic to drive
Wide range of engines and trims

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

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is great – and it’s been made slightly better by a recent facelift. If you’re a keen driver, you could end your search here, as this little supermini has one of the best platforms and sharpest steering systems of any small car on sale today. Entry-level Trend models are keenly priced and cheap to run, while the ST-Line variants (like the one pictured above) have a slight stiffer chassis for better handling.

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. Our only bugbear is the level of electrification. The best the Fiesta can offer is a mild-hybrid system – but the car is so small and light that you should be able to screw 45mpg from it if you drive it carefully.**

Price new: from £17,905
Leasing price: from per month
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4. Skoda Fabia

The grown-up small car

Pros:
Roomy and well equipped
As good on the motorway as in cities

Cons:
No diesel or plug-in hybrid versions
A little bit dull to look at

Skoda Fabia review (2022) front view

The Skoda Fabia is still reasonably new on the market, but it looks reasonably familiar given its same-again looks compared with the old model. There’s a one-size-fits all approach these days, with the single five-door hatchback bodystyle being offered with a number of power units and five model trims. Skoda always likes to offer its models with plenty of choice.

Even the cheapest 80hp 1.0-litre base-model is a mature drive, being composed on the motorway, and reasonably zippy in the city. The interior is almost a scaled-down version of the one offered in the Octavia, which means tight build quality, a selection of nice materials, and digital instrumentation. Most excitingly for keen drivers, there’s a quick 1.5-litre Monte Carlo version that offers much of the performance of the old, much-missed Fabia vRS.

Price new: from £17,800
Leasing price: from £246 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 is awkward

2020 Renault Zoe side

Unlike the Clio (which you’ll see later on in this list) the Renault Zoe is all-electric, all the time – and it’s all the better for it. The driving experience is entirely approachable, it’s quite practical for its size and it looks almost exactly like a conventional supermini.

It’ll also do 238 miles on a single charge, which makes it almost as convenient as a petrol supermini, especially if you’re tooled up to charge it at home. After all, cars of this size spend most of their time in town and cities – so why bother with petrol at all? If you’re caught short, 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 £29,095
Leasing price: from 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

The SEAT Ibiza is basically a smaller version of the Leon, but it still ticks all the right boxes. It’s practical, it’s affordable, it’s reliable and it’s great fun to drive. Not as fun as a Fiesta, but that’s beside the point. It’s still a former Parkers First Car of the Year award winner, which it earned for its good build quality and clever packaging.

There’s plenty of space inside for four adults, and the boot is big enough to swallow the weekly shop and all the tat you’d pick up during a whimsical flit to B&M – all in the same trip. Couple that with some good finance deals and a decent level of technology across the line-up, and you’re onto a winner.**

>> We ran a long-term SEAT Ibiza back in 2018 – check out our thoughts here
>> We ran a long-term SEAT Ibiza in 2022 – check out our thoughts here

Price new: from £17,755
Leasing price: from £217 per month
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7. MINI Hatch

Small cars don’t come more stylish than this

Pros:
Great fun to drive
Infinitely customisable

Cons:
Not very practical
Expensive

Best small cars - MINI Hatch

The original Mini is the most recognisable small car of all time. And, even 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 a decent wedge to spend on going carbon-free.**

Price new: from £17,415
Leasing price: from £317 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. It lacked in quality, performance and outright desirability – but the Japanese firm has very much fixed that with its latest take on the supermini, propelling it back up to the leading pack.

If fuel consumption is a major concern, it’s hard to beat the Toyota Yaris. It’s powered by a sophisticated hybrid system, which offers more electric assistance than the mild hybrid system fitted to the Fiesta. To cut a long story short, Toyota’s ‘self-charging’ hybrid offers pure-electric mileage – which a mild hybrid setup can’t. The Yaris’s fresh look and 0% APR finance deals also make it a serious attraction on the forecourt.

Price new: from £20,830
Leasing price: from £249 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
❌ Optional auto ‘box is awful

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 have just enough grunt if you’re happy to give them plenty of encouragement with your right foot.**

Price new: from £13,430
Leasing price: from £184 per month
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10. Renault Clio

The best all-round small car

Pros:
Looks great
Bargain price

Cons:
Cramped rear seats
❌ Prices have been creeping up

Renault Clio

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

The Clio’s engine line-up includes two powertrains. There’s a 140hp hybrid and a turbocharged 90hp petrol, both of 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 £18,795
Leasing price: from £246 per month
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Looking for your next car?

** 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.