As the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) constantly seems to tell us, the small car market is the biggest in the UK and that trend looks set to continue in to 2011 on the back of the raft of models set for release.With the addition of Audi and Aston Martin to an already long list of competitors it’s clear that small cars will continue to expand.This top five doesn’t offer a definitive list of the best cars, more an overview of the segment including cars at the top-end and bottom-end in terms of budget, one is included purely for its iconic status and one because it’s an underrated member of the supermini elite.Aston Martin Cygnet
Aston has broken its own mould and deviated away from the saloon/coupe market in making its own city car.Tthe Cygnet is a bit misleading in the sense that it’s actually a Toyota iQ- it shares the same design platform and even the same 1.33-litre engine as the Japanese super car, not a 5.0-litre V8 beast, unfortunately.It will however, Aston assures us, retain the ‘feel’ of the premium brand that has made the Gaydon-based manufacturer a watermark for luxury.To that end the Cygnet will feature all of the luxury interior options of the DB9.As the Aston badge and an unveiling at Harrods, London will imply, the Cygnet will not be cheap, costing around £30,000- the very top-end of the segment.Audi A1
Like Aston Martin, Audi is releasing its first ever out-and-out small car in the form of the A1, whose sights are set firmly on dethroning the Mini at the luxury end of the market.The small premium hatchback can be equipped with a potent 1.6-litre turbodiesel which looks set to outperform many of its rivals.Audi is also fairly smug about the equipment levels of its 3-door hatch that will deliver high quality systems and technology befitting of the Audi tag.This includes an MMI 3G Info-tainment interface as seen on the A8 executive saloon, self-dipping headlights and Audi’s latest generation of traction control- all very lofty for a car whose pricing starts at £13,420.Especially when compared with the Cygnet.Fiat Panda
The 2011 Fiat Panda was originally supposed to be the 2009 Fiat Panda but a spending freeze at the Italian manufacturers put the mockers on that release date.The Panda has often found itself in the shadow of Fiat’s other city car-the Fiat 500- however that is unfair on the model which is one of the cheapest cars on the market and also one of Fiat’s longest running models.Obviously this must translate into a basic level of equipment and technology on the little Fiat however it still serves its purpose as a city car.Details for the Panda are yet to be officially confirmed but the current generation has proved a success, so expect much of the same: A cheap car to buy and own, that ticks every box a city car should.Nissan Micra
Nissan’s new Micra is actually new, even if it doesn’t look it- so Nissan says anyway.In fact the Japanese manufacturer goes as far as to say that the Micra is a complete reworking of the stalwart supermini.The new Micra will be virtually identical across the 160 countries it is sold in and as with most superminis, it has been designed with the city and urban driving in mind.As a result CO2 emissions are as low as 95g/km and they are achieved courtesy of a new lightweight design as well as energy saving technologies like its start-stop system.Nissan has also made more equipment and options available than ever before on the Micra, including a glass roof, Nissan connect touch-screen Satellite Navigation and an intelligent parking system.Volkswagen Beetle
The Beetle was a motoring icon in its heyday thanks to a unique mix of design and shape and to a certain extent its dominance in Disney films.Recently however its reputation has waned with it becoming the staple of spoilt daddy’s girls and emblazoned in flowers and pink.VW is looking to change that reputation by a strong handed move that we have termed ‘squashing the Beetle’ to make sure it look less like a cutesy bubble and more masculine.Terrible pun aside, VW has in fact squashed the Beetle-physically. Its roof has lowered which gives the effect of the car being widened.Inside the Beetle will have more space available to passengers while a new range of engines will also up the performance of Herbie.The Beetle won’t be cheap as it slots neatly into a niche part of the market courtesy of its unique design and iconic heritage.Further down the line VW has also hinted at a cabriolet and hybrid version of the supermini.