Although SUVs are as popular as ever with many drivers, they can’t quite top superminis, which continue to dominate the list of best-selling new cars in the UK. Indeed, the Vauxhall Corsa was the top selling car of 2021. But with so many models to choose from, which are the best ones to buy? Below we’ve listed our top superminis on sale today.
The success of these cars shouldn’t come as a surprise because today’s superminis are great all-rounders. The majority have space for four or five people plus luggage, as well as efficient engines and levels of quality and refinement that would embarrass the family hatchbacks of 10 years ago.
Best superminis to buy now
- Renault Clio
- Skoda Fabia
- Dacia Sandero
- Vauxhall Corsa
- Ford Fiesta
- Hyundai i20
- Toyota Yaris
- Peugeot 208
- MINI 5-door
- Volkswagen Polo
Scroll down to read more about the best superminis to buy now…
1. Renault Clio
Renault turned the supermini class upside down with this fifth-generation Clio. It came out on top in one of the UK’s toughest new car segments, despite worthy challenges from the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Vauxhall Corsa.
The Clio’s practicality is superb, with a good level of legroom and a 391-litre boot (that’s larger than a Volkswagen Golf) highlighting its flexibility.
Superminis have to score highly in so many other areas, too, and with useful technology included across the range there’s plenty of connectivity and features to keep you entertained on the move.
The Clio’s refinement belies its size and affordability, because its engine is smooth and quiet on the move. Only really at higher revs does it start to become apparent, and even then it’s not too loud.
It takes a big bump to upset the chassis, and even then the Renault supermini deals with it adeptly, smoothing out even the harshest inputs so that it keeps things nice and calm inside a cabin that is quiet, spacious, of high quality and well equipped.
2. Skoda Fabia
The Skoda Fabia is one of the best superminis for sale in the UK today. It offers lots of practicality, decent space inside and a range of efficient engines. And while there’s no vRS hot hatch, the Fabia is still a decent-handling yet refined supermini, which helps to make it a front-runner in the class.
Precise steering and a low kerbweight mean the Fabia handles neatly, proving light on its feet and nimble in town. But sporty handling arguably isn’t as important as comfort in a supermini, and while the Fabia isn’t quick, it more than compensates in terms of ride quality.
It’s spacious, too, with impressive space in both front and rear, ample legroom and lots of headroom. Two six-footers can sit reasonably comfortably behind tall adults, and it will even take three adults without too much of a squeeze.
Customers needn’t worry about safety, either, because the Fabia was awarded a full five-star rating by Euro NCAP.
3. Dacia Sandero
By far the cheapest car on this list, the Dacia Sandero is a full-sized supermini that’s priced below most city cars. Now based on the current Renault Clio (the old Sandero was based on a decade-old Clio), the new Sandero remains a little less sophisticated than some of the latest crop of superminis but still holds up well against its more polished competition.
Go for the 1.0-litre petrol and you’ll be met with a supermini that’s good to drive and comfortable, even if it’s not the most refined car in its class. The Sandero is a no-frills new car that prioritises value for money, but cheap does not equal nasty in this instance. Do bear in mind that the Sandero only has a two-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, however.
Prices start at just more than £10,000 for the Essential version, while the top-spec Comfort cars are priced at around £12,000 and come with cruise control, rear parking sensors, an 8-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
4. Vauxhall Corsa
The latest Vauxhall Corsa is miles better than the car it replaced, offering a much more convincing blend of performance, economy, comfort and driving pleasure. It looks good, has one of the best petrol engines in its class and has benefited hugely from the thoroughly modern underpinnings shared with the latest Peugeot 208.
The Corsa is available with petrol, diesel, and electric powertrains. So regardless of your driving habits, there should be a Corsa for you. There’s plenty of opportunity for personalisation, too, with bold paint colours on offer, along with the options of a contrasting black roof and door mirrors.
The chassis is both 15 per cent more rigid than the old car’s and 40kg lighter. Add up the other weight saving measures (lighter seats front and rear, an aluminium bonnet, lighter engines) and the new Corsas weighs up to 108kg less than an equivalent version of the old car.
5. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta has long been the supermini to beat, often outselling rivals and remaining one of the UK’s most popular new cars. The latest version is the best yet, serving up an unbeatable mix of performance, practicality and standard equipment – while still delivering the genuinely fun driving experience for which the Fiesta has become famous.
There’s plenty of choice in the range, with three and five-door versions, each offering loads of boot and rear passenger space for a supermini. All specs are well equipped, with even the entry-level Trend model benefiting from an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus lane-keep assist, a heated windscreen and a leather steering wheel.
6. Hyundai i20
Hyundai has clearly intended to make a far bigger impression on the supermini buyer with its latest i20. Far more striking looks, an economical yet punchy three-cylinder hybrid-assisted engine, strong practicality and a rather entertaining drive are just some of the improvements that have been made over the previous model.
Some interior materials are a bit disappointing compared with those in rivals, and you will need to opt for the higher trim levels to get the best equipment. To drive, though, the i20 is one of the best in its class, and a genuine rival for the Ford Fiesta.
7. Toyota Yaris
The Toyota Yaris is arguably the manufacturer’s most focused supermini yet. In an ultra-competitive supermini market, the five-door Yaris is keeping things simple. The sole 1.5-litre petrol hybrid engine delivers 114bhp and provides more than enough power to make it a capable performer around town.
Toyota claims the hybrid model’s bigger battery will help it function in pure electric mode for around 80% of the time while on regular urban journeys, and it can be driven at up to 80mph before the petrol engine chips-in.
As well as offering good fuel economy and plenty of standard kit, Toyota has bestowed the Yaris with a strong, distinctive look. The muscular wheelarches, large grille and sharp creases all contribute to a more purposeful stance than on the previous model, and an appearance that translates well to the beefed-up GR Yaris performance model.
The Yaris is a great performer around town, and certainly won’t be caught out on motorway stretches, while customers can be reassured by excellent levels of safety equipment.
8. Peugeot 208
The new Peugeot 208 is a great-looking supermini. It brings a sense of style and a real feelgood factor, helping it stand out from equally capable rivals.
The 208, along with the new Vauxhall Corsa, sits on the Stellantis Group’s CMP small-car platform. The platform has been designed from the outset to offer different powertrain configurations, which means the 208 can come with a petrol engine, a diesel engine or as a pure-electric vehicle.
The e-208 costs around £10,000 more than the combustion-powered models and is able to cover up to 225 miles on a single charge. It can be fully charged from a 7kWh home wall box in 7.5 hours, while a 100kWh public terminal can achieve 80% power in just 30 minutes. The electric motor sits under the bonnet, while the 50kWh battery pack lies under the rear seats. This allows the interior to remain the same as in other models, without no loss of space.
9. MINI 5-door
It might be getting bigger with each new generation, but the MINI is also getting better, to the extent that now it truly feels like a cut-size BMW.
While it’s possible to spec a highly personalised MINI that’s eye-wateringly expensive, most versions are actually very well priced if you buy with restraint. Inside, the MINI gets a raft of technology, and it’s safer, better equipped and more sophisticated than ever. Unless you go crazy with the bewildering range of options, the MINI hatch is generally a cost-effective car to run.
10. Volkswagen Polo
Although it’s classed as a supermini by modern standards, the latest Volkswagen Polo has grown to be about the same size as the Mk5 Golf sold from 2004 to 2009. The result is a small car that feels spacious and grown-up, while its up-to-date MQB platform brings an array of great engines and a polished driving experience.
You’ll pay a premium to enjoy the Polo’s top-quality build and desirable badge – especially if you choose a higher trim level – but its breadth of ability is more than worth the outlay. All models are relatively well equipped, with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, all-round electric windows, 15-inch alloys and a leather steering wheel.
The Polo is only sold as a five-door and there’s the rear space to match; it’s a supermini that could stand in as a small family car if required. If you can afford it, this is one of the class’s finest choices.
Supermini buying advice
Choosing your perfect supermini from the huge list of options on the market is tough, but it’s not impossible; you could even have fun doing so if you approach the process in the right way.
It’s worth starting your hunt by having a clear idea of your requirements before visiting a dealer. Take into account your average weekly, monthly or yearly mileage, the number of passengers you carry, required boot space and must-have features like smartphone connectivity, heated seats or cruise control. Consider your budget not just for fuel and insurance, but also for servicing and maintenance.
Given the efficiency and relative low purchase cost of a modern petrol supermini, diesel models are becoming increasingly difficult to recommend for most buyers. They are best avoided for mainly city driving, considering the current climate of low-emissions zones, and are better suited to regular long-distance motorway work. However, if you need a car to munch the miles, it might be worth looking at something more refined from the class above.
Most modern turbocharged petrol units are designed to blend decent performance and economy. An engine with around 90 to 100bhp will usually offer the best compromise.
Don’t underestimate the power of a test drive. Aspects such as driving position, clutch weight, seat comfort and visibility can make or break a car that seems perfect on paper. Make sure you’ll be happy living with it before you buy.
If most of your driving will be in town, check you’re comfortable in tighter spots; try parallel parking or a three-point turn. Similarly, if your supermini will be a countryside commuter, find a B-road and see how the driving experience measures up.
Most entry-level superminis come with a decent amount of standard equipment, but it pays to weigh up cost versus requirements when working your way up the range. Figure out what you’ll need to avoid paying extra for features you won’t use.
If you plan to carry small children or are worried about safety in general, bear in mind that not all superminis will have a five-star Euro NCAP rating.