The Ford Fiesta is usually the first car that comes to mind when thinking of superminis. Ford’s ever-popular Fiesta has long been the UK’s best-selling car and will, seemingly, continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Ford’s best-selling Fiesta is available in six trim levels, from the entry-level Studio right up to the range-topping Titanium X.
As standard, all models come fitted with daytime running lights, Ford AM/FM CD Audio System with USB, Hill start assist, tinted glass, body colour rear spoiler, chrome upper grille, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and tyre repair kit.
Moving up the trim levels brings desirable features such as Ford MyKey, air conditioning, alloy wheels, Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance, front fog lights, ambient interior lighting, leather trimmed steering wheel, sports seats, DAB radio, cruise control, rear view camera and rear parking sensors.
Priced from £9,995, the Ford Fiesta is available in three- and five-door bodystyles. The engine line-up on offer is huge, with sizes ranging from 1.0- to 1.6-litres and power output varying from 59bhp to 123bhp.
Depending on the model chosen, a Ford Fiesta will return average fuel economy of between 54.3mpg and 85.6mpg, while producing between 85g/km and 138g/km of CO2 emissions. This means that the latest Ford Fiesta will fall under a VED band between ‘A’ and ‘E’.
Our pick of the range is the £14,545 Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.0T 99bhp EcoBoost, which offers the 2012 & 2013 ‘International Engine of the Year’, in addition to all of the equipment that most drivers would ever need.
Hot on the heels of the Ford Fiesta in the UK is the Vauxhall Corsa, which is the British manufacturer’s best-selling model.
Starting from £8,995, the Vauxhall Corsa is available with either three or five doors, eight trim levels and plenty of power options.
Opening the range is the limited-edition Sting model, which comes with daytime running lights, power steering, CD/MP3 player, alloy wheels, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), remote central locking and electrically-operated front windows.
Depending on the particular model chosen, the higher-specified Corsas will come with such features as a leather-covered steering wheel, alloy wheels, front fog lights, USB connection, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, air conditioning, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, cruise control and sports suspension.
A host of petrol and diesel engines are available for use in the Vauxhall Corsa, including the company’s eco-signature: ecoFLEX.
Available transmissions include a five-speed manual, six-speed manual and a six-speed Easytronic gearbox, with Start/Stop technology also offered on some models.
The Vauxhall Corsa emits between 88g/km and 129g/km of CO2, while returning between 62.8mpg and 91.1mpg. This means that the Corsa will fall under a VED band between ‘A’ and ‘D’.
We recommend the Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi 94bhp ecoFLEX Start/Stop S model, for its low CO2 emissions, high fuel economy and enough equipment for most motorists.
Audi usually directly competes with fellow German manufacturers BMW and Mercedes-Benz. With its A1 model, however, it ventures into the crowded supermini segment which remains untouched by its two big rivals.
The Audi A1 is available in six trim levels, with prices starting at £15,175. Both petrol and diesel options are available, while all models come highly equipped.
Standard equipment for the A1 includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, sports steering wheel, 6.5-inch display screen, CD player with MP3 compatibility, SD card reader, aux-in socket and numerous airbags.
Higher trim levels bring desirable features such as larger alloys, sports suspension, Bluetooth, sports seats, leather sports multi-function steering wheel, front fog lights, roof spoiler, Xenon Plus headlights, automatic climate control and privacy glass.
Depending on the model chosen, numerous petrol and diesel options will be available. Petrol engine sizes range from 1.2-litres to 1.4-litres, while diesel unit sizes vary from 1.6-litres to 2.0-litres.
Engines are paired with either a five-speed manual, six-speed manual or seven-speed S tronic transmission.
The Audi A1 will return average fuel economy of between 47.9mpg and 74.3mpg, while CO2 emissions range from 99g/km to 139g/km. This means that the A1 will have a Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rating of between 13% and 19% - depending on the model chosen.
Our pick of the range is the Audi A1 1.6 TDI Sport, which offers sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, high fuel economy, a low BiK tax rating and an extra touch of class within – when compared to the entry-level diesel model.
Although the French manufacturer has two superminis, we have gone for the Citroën DS3 over the C3 hatchback as it has that extra bit of style.
The stylish Citroën DS3 is priced from £12,495 and is available to customers in four main trim levels (DSign, DStyle, DSport and Ultra Prestige), with a few limited edition variations also on offer.
Entry-level models come well equipped, featuring cruise control, front fog lights, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and driver’s, front passenger’s, front lateral and curtain airbags.
Depending on the trim level chosen, the higher-spec models add air conditioning, double chrome exhaust pipe, Citroën eTouch Emergency and Assistance system, leather upholstery, alloy wheels, metallic paint, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and sat-nav.
Numerous engines are available to power the DS3, with the line-up comprising the VTi 81bhp, e-HDi 89bhp Airdream, VTi 118bhp, THP 153bhp and the e-HDi 113bhp Airdream. All engines are mated to a manual gearbox, while the VTi 118bhp unit is also available with an automatic transmission.
Models emit between 91g/km and 150g/km of CO2, resulting in a BiK tax rate of between 13% and 23%.
For low emissions combined with a generous amount of equipment, we suggest opting for the Citroën DS3 e-HDi 90 Airdream DStyle.
The next-generation of the iconic MINI Hatch was released recently, with the new model marking the debut of the company’s new three-cylinder engines.
Five versions of the new MINI Hatch are available: One Hatch, One D Hatch, Cooper Hatch, Cooper D Hatch and the Cooper S Hatch, with prices starting at £13,750.
MINI has increased the standard equipment for the range, with models now featuring air conditioning, an on-board computer, front fog lamps and MINI Radio (including Bluetooth, aux-in and USB interface) as standard.
The entry-level MINI One Hatch comes fitted with a 101bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, generating 180Nm of torque. The diesel-fuelled One D Hatch, however, features a 94bhp 1.5-litre diesel unit which produces 220Nm of torque.
Moving up to the new MINI Cooper Hatch, customers will experience a 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, with peak torque of 220Nm.
The MINI Cooper D Hatch is powered by a 114bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel engine, generating 270Nm of torque. The range-topping MINI Cooper S Hatch comes fitted with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with a peak output of 189bhp and 280Nm of torque.
Customers looking for a frugal MINI should look no further than the top of the range Cooper S Hatch, as this model returns average fuel economy of 80.7mpg.
With the MINI Cooper being such an iconic model, why not go for the range-topping MINI Cooper S Hatch? With the highest power output and fuel economy figure, along with the most equipment, our choice has to be the MINI Cooper S Hatch.
‘Sleek’ and ‘stylish’ are two words that can describe the Peugeot 208, with the supermini offering low CO2 emissions, high mpg figures and a generous level of equipment.
Priced from £9,995, the Peugeot 208 supermini is available in numerous trim levels, which are: Access, Access+, Active, Allure, XY (three-door only) and Feline (five-door only).
All models come equipped with cruise control, radio/CD player, daytime running lights, ‘follow me home’ lighting, ESP, ABS with EBD, remote central locking and numerous airbags.
Desirable equipment such as air conditioning, alloy wheels, tinted windows, rear parking aid, seven-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, sat-nav, steering wheel-mounted controls and a USB socket are available in the higher trim levels.
The Peugeot 208 is now a recipient of the company’s new range of PureTech three-cylinder petrol engines.
In addition to the three PureTech engines, the petrol range consists of two VTi units and one THP powerplant. Sizes range from 1.0-litres to 1.6-litres, while power output varies from 67bhp to 154bhp.
The diesel range consists of one HDi FAP engine and four e-HDi FAP versions, with sizes ranging from 1.4-litres to 1.6-litres and power outputs varying from 67bhp to 113bhp.
Depending on the version chosen, the Peugeot 208 will emit between 87g/km and 149g/km of CO2, while returning between 44.1mpg and 83.1mpg.
With sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, high mpg and a generous level of equipment, our choice is the Peugeot 208 PureTech 1.2 e-VTi Stop & Start EGC Allure three-door model.
With plenty of ‘Va Va Voom’, the Renault Clio fits in well with the other stylish superminis like the Citroën DS3 and the Peugeot 208.
The sleek Renault Clio is priced from £10,795 and is available in five trim levels: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav, Dynamique S MediaNav and GT-Line.
As standard, models come fitted with LED daytime running lights, ESC, Hill Start Assist, ABS with EBD and a radio with Bluetooth, USB and Handsfree technology.
Trim levels from Expression+ upwards come with additional features such as air conditioning, alloy wheels, front fog lights, sat-nav, seven-inch touch-screen, rear parking sensors and a rear spoiler.
A range of petrol and diesel engines are available to power the Clio, with average fuel consumption ranging from 51.4mpg to a frugal 88.3mpg. CO2 emissions produced also vary from just 83g/km to 127g/km, placing the model in a VED tax band between ‘A’ and ‘D’.
Depending on the version chosen, the engine within the Renault Clio may feature Stop & Start technology.
Our pick of the range is the Renault Clio Expression+ ENERGY TCe 90 Stop & Start ECO. This model offers sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, high fuel economy, a good level of equipment and is one of the cheaper Clios in the range.
The Volkswagen Polo is the third best-selling supermini in the UK, behind the ever-popular Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa models. With a new VW Polo out this year, the German marque will be looking to close the gap.
Starting from £11,100, the new VW Polo features a range of new and more efficient engines, in addition to a host of advanced technology. Trim levels consist of the entry-level S, S A/C, SE, SE Design, SEL and range-topping BlueGT.
All Volkswagen Polo’s this year come equipped with ESC, Hill Hold and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System as standard. In addition, the latest generation of Volkswagen’s modular infotainment system has been introduced across the Polo range.
All VW Polo models in the UK offer Bluetooth telephone connectivity and USB media-in, while a sat-nav for the 6.5-inch full-colour touch-screen is available as an optional extra.
Another optional highlight is MirrorLink, which makes it possible for motorists to display and control certain approved Android smartphone apps on the infotainment screen.
A range of petrol and diesel engines are available, with sizes ranging from 1.0-litres to 1.4-litres and power output varying from 59bhp to 148bhp. Engines come mated with either a five-speed manual gearbox, a six-speed manual ‘box or a seven-speed DSG transmission.
Average fuel economy ranges from 57.6mpg to 83.1mpg, although figures for the VW Polo BlueGT have not yet been released. The model will emit between 88g/km and 110g/km of CO2.
As the SE trim has enough equipment for most drivers, we suggest going for the VW Polo 1.2 TSI 89bhp SE model.
The Toyota Yaris is experiencing a rise in popularity recently, with the manufacturer having to start operating a third production shift at its European Yaris factory in order to meet the high demand for the model.
Toyota revised the Yaris range for 2014, with prices starting from £10,895 and the model available in four trim levels: Active, Icon, Icon Plus and Trend.
Standard equipment across the range includes seven airbags, six-speaker audio system, aux-in and USB connection, audio controls on steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat and traction control.
Moving up to the higher-spec models brings features such as alloy wheels, Toyota Touch multimedia system, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, air conditioning, front fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, rear privacy glass and leather steering wheel trim.
The Toyota Yaris engine range consists of the 1.0-litre VVT-i, 1.3-litre VVT-i and the 1.4-litre D-4D. Transmissions include the five-speed manual, six-speed manual and Multidrive S gearbox.
Thanks to updates from Toyota, the Yaris 1.4 D-4D diesel model now offers sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, with this version emitting 99g/km of CO2 – down from 104g/km.
This means that the Toyota Yaris 1.4 D-4D Icon Plus is in band ‘A’ for road tax (VED) with no annual charge. In addition, this model’s average fuel economy has been improved from 72.4mpg to 74.3mgpg.
Those looking for a sub-100g/km CO2 Yaris should opt for the aforementioned D-4D Icon Plus version. Otherwise, we suggest the Toyota Yaris 1.3 VVT-i Icon with the six-speed manual transmission.
Although available as a three-door ‘Sport Coupe’, we will focus on the SEAT Ibiza 5dr (five-door), with this version receiving an added dose of practicality over the SEAT Ibiza SC.
Priced from £11,730, five versions of the SEAT Ibiza 5dr are available to UK customers: S A/C, Ecomotive, SE/Toca, FR and FR Edition.
Standard equipment across the range is plentiful, with even entry-level models receiving air conditioning, MP3-compatible CD player with aux-in, remote audio controls, front electric windows, height-adjustable driver’s seat and numerous airbags.
Upgraded models bring extra features such as alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and gear knob, front fog lights with cornering function, ESC, SEAT Portable System Live, twin exhaust pipes, sports suspension, cruise control, climate control and much more.
Models fitted with the SEAT Portable System Live technology will feature sat-nav, Bluetooth phone connection with audio streaming, micro-SD card slot for music storage and integrated trip computer functions.
Engines in the Ibiza 5dr line-up have sizes ranging from 1.2-litres to 2.0-litres, with petrol and diesel options available.
Depending on the version chosen, the SEAT Ibiza five-door hatchback will return average fuel consumption of between 47.9mpg and 80.7 mpg. CO2 emissions produced vary from 92g/km to 139g/km, placing the model in a VED band between ‘A’ and ‘E’.
Furthermore, the SEAT Ibiza will carry a BiK tax rating of between 14% and 20% for 2014/15.
We recommend the SEAT Ibiza 5dr 1.2 TDI Ecomotive SE, for its blend of frugality, tax-saving benefits and generous equipment.
The Dacia Sandero is the cheapest model to purchase new in the UK, which makes it a serious player in the supermini segment.
Priced from just £5,995, the Dacia Sandero is able to undercut every one of its rivals with its spectacularly-low pricing structure.
Dacia’s popular Sandero model is available in three trim levels, which are Access, Ambiance and Laureate.
Standard equipment across the range includes ABS with EBA, ESC, power steering, daytime running lights, tinted windows and numerous airbags.
Higher trim levels add features such as remote central locking, electric front windows, aux input, Bluetooth connectivity, radio with CD player, USB connection for MP3 player, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control, front fog lights and air conditioning.
The Dacia Sandero engine line-up comprises the 1.2 16v 74bhp, TCe 89bhp and the dCi 89bhp. CO2 emissions range from 99g/km to 135g/km, placing the Sandero supermini in a VED band between ‘A’ and ‘E’.
Furthermore, average fuel consumption ranges from 48.7mpg to 74.3mpg, with the model carrying a BiK tax rating between 15% and 20%.
For those wanting the lowest price new car that money can buy, the obvious choice is the entry-level Dacia Sandero Access model.
However, for the extra equipment, we recommend the Dacia Sandero Laureate dCi 90. This model has sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, a good level of equipment, high fuel economy and is priced at under £10,000.
Skoda has went through a resurgence in recent years, with the Czech manufacturer continuing to gain admirers in the UK.
One of the models helping the brand to grow is the Skoda Fabia supermini, which is priced from £9,945 and available in five trim levels: S, Reaction, SE, Elegance and GreenLine II.
As standard, all Fabia models come equipped with height-adjustable driver’s seat, tyre repair kit, radio/CD player and four speakers.
As the S models do not come well equipped, it is best to start from at least the SE trim, which adds leather gear knob, additional four speakers in the rear, tinted windscreen, trip computer, alloy wheels and electronically heated and adjustable door mirrors.
Higher-spec versions come with additional leather steering wheel, rear spoiler, front fog lights, air conditioning, cruise control, curtain airbags, Hill hold control and stop/start function.
Numerous engines are available to power the Skoda Fabia hatchback, with sizes ranging from 1.2-litres to 1.6-litres. Petrol and diesel options are available, with CO2 emissions ranging from 89g/km to 139g/km.
Only the eco-friendly Skoda Fabia GreenLine II 1.2 TDI CR 74bhp falls under the VED band ‘A’, while the rest of the range falls under a road tax band from ‘B’ to ‘E’.
We recommend the Skoda Fabia GreenLine II 1.2 TDI CR 74bhp for its sub-100g/km CO2 figure, excellent fuel economy and generous equipment.
Best superminis 2012
The Fiesta is a class-leader because of its sharp looks, superb drive and high level of equipment. It is also surprisingly affordable with some excellent, frugal engine choices.
The closest challenger to the Fiesta. The Corsa is a modern, well-equipped supermini with attractive styling and a range of brilliant engines including road tax-free versions in both three- and five-door body styles.
Kia is on to a real winner with the Rio. Steering is a bit loose but it looks superb, feels nicely put together and boasts ultra-low running costs. An attractive seven-year warranty is a big bonus.
Handles well and almost bombproof build quality. Interior feels premium and the level of equipment is impressive. Residual values are superb - courtesy of the VW badge - but the starting price can be a bit steep.
Impressive small car which uses a good selection of Volkswagen engines. Don't be put off by the name - new Skoda cars are reliable, desirable and great to drive.
Reliable, well-built car from Toyota. There's plenty of room inside and Toyota has packed plenty of equipment into the Yaris. A safe, reliable option but not the best to drive in its class.
'Cute' supermini mostly associated with female drivers. The newer version sharpens some of the edges to increase its target market. Cheap to buy and run but not up to Fiesta standards on the road.
The Honda Jazz is spacious, practical and the build quality is exceptionally high. This should give piece of mind, but the styling is a bit dull and the ride cannot match sportier models on the market.
The C3 does everything well without excelling at anything, perhaps with the exception of ultra-frugal diesels at the bottom of the range. A good alternative to the usual class leaders.
The Mazda2 looks great and offers an incredibly fun and involving drive. New 2012 engines are efficient and running costs won't break the bank. The only downside is an uninspiring interior.
The i20 is the cost-conscious choice in the supermini market. Low starting prices, cheap running costs and plenty of equipment are all plus points. A good warranty adds to the 'value' tag, but the drive is not as exciting as some.
The 207 is one of the best-looking superminis around and it makes for a great all-rounder. However, base levels are quite sparse and extra equipment on higher trims can quickly become expensive.
Long-running chic French supermini which has left reliability problems behind to offer a good value small car alternative. A new one is arriving towards the end of 2012, meaning bargains on current models can be had.
Fiat Punto Evo
The Fiat Punto Evo is not the most attractive car on the road but it does come with plenty of gadgets and some award-winning engines offering low running costs. A timely 2012 update bumps up interior quality but also price.
Sporty, stylish supermini with some eye-catching exterior and interior colours. Also comes with some of the most efficient engines around to reduce running costs to city car levels. A strong choice for younger buyers.
Excellent little car from the Japanese car maker. Its stylish looks are sufficient to differentiate it from the crowd and driving it will leave a smile on your face.
The Chevrolet Aveo is a low-priced supermini which has grown up in 2012. Distinctive design and a well-equipped cabin belie its humble price tag. It won't trouble the big-sellers, but it is a good value-for-money alternative.
The Mitsubishi Colt is a supermini with a distinctly MPV feel to it. This means a bigger boot and good headroom for four people. However, it loses out in terms of style and handling as a result. Prices do start low, so don't rule it out.