Currently reading: Top 10 best superminis 2024
The best superminis have evolved from small yet practical cars to ones with real dynamic prowess, filled with the kind of luxuries found on larger cars. So which would we buy?

The onslaught of high-riding crossovers and full-size SUV paints a different picture, but small, B-segment hatchbacks – that is, superminis – remain the most popular cars in Europe. 

In recent years, few significant new models have been introduced, but there have been a fair few facelifts, which have shaken up the rankings somewhat. An all-new Mini is also on the way, which explains the absence of the old car on this list. When it arrives and we've driven it, expect it to rank fairly highly, as past iterations have.

To make our top 10 list for 2024, a supermini needs to be so much more than just capable of carrying a couple of adults, a couple of kids and a decent amount of luggage relative to its small footprint. It must now also be desirable, well packaged, easy to drive and pleasant to use. A pedigree performer, in other words. 

Dynamically, the key attributes are transparency and good basic agility. Superminis should be inherently nimble and at least moderately fun to drive in all their forms. Sluggish steering is a worse crime than soft suspension. Modest power and five doors are no impediments to a rewarding driving experience. 

Increasingly superminis also offer a level of perceived quality, performance and technological sophistication that bears comparison with that of bigger hatchbacks. And the very best combine some or all of that with the agility that only a small, light car can offer.


1. Seat Ibiza

The fifth-generation Seat Ibiza stormed to the top of our supermini class rankings when it appeared in 2018 and has had a very successful facelift in 2021. The Spanish company went to great lengths to replace the decent fourth-generation Ibiza with a handsome hatchback backed by real substance. It was the first of the Volkswagen Group's latest breed of MQB-based small hatchbacks – and since the recent facelift, it’s also the best.

Mimicking the bigger Seat Leon in many ways, the Ibiza is roomy, well equipped and much better finished than before. Combine that with its fine on-road handling and refinement manners, its value-for-money position, its impressive equipment features and its youthful styling and it all adds up to a class-leading proposition for us. 

It’s not quite as entertaining to drive as the Ford Fiesta, but it’s close, and since the recent update, the interior is much-improved, with more soft-touch materials, a more interesting dashboard design and Seat’s latest infotainment system (even if it can be buggy on some cars). 

The Ibiza is our current class leader because it's a more rounded, upmarket ownership proposition than the Ford and still more fun to drive than the Volkswagen Polo, and it has a nicer interior than either of them.


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2. Skoda Fabia

Skoda has seen a clear march upmarket in recent years, and that suits some of its models better than others. Some have got a bit too expensive, but with the latest Fabia, Skoda has nailed the balance.

It’s no longer as cheap as it once was, but it’s still one of the more affordable options in the class. Nevertheless, it is one of the most spacious superminis on the market, with only the Honda Jazz offering more room.

The interior isn't particularly plush, but it is, especially in some of the lower-spec versions, as intuitive as it gets, with big, simple buttons and ergonomics that are spot on.

The engine range is similarly no-nonsense, with no hybrids or diesels available. Instead, there’s a choice of three-pot petrols and one four-cylinder. We would avoid the weedy naturally aspirated models and go for the 95PS TSI turbo. The more powerful engines aren’t really worth the additional outlay.

Despite sharing much of its mechanical make-up with the Ibiza and Polo, the Fabia neatly differentiates itself with its driving experience. It's not trying to be sporty or exciting; instead it rides extremely well without becoming frustratingly floaty in the corners.

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The Fabia works best as a practical value option, but if you value tech like matrix LED headlights, driver-assistance systems and active safety features, or a big touchscreen and a digital gauge cluster, Skoda does offer all of those as options.


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Skoda fabia top 10

3. Ford Fiesta

The latest Fiesta had the difficult task of bettering its class-leading predecessor, which might have been the best-handling supermini of the past 25 years. This latest version is much more than just a reskin of the old one, and in some respects – namely its supple ride, sparkling on-road handling dynamism and driver appeal – it remains best-in-class.

However, the Fiesta's new crop of opponents have moved the supermini game on in ways that it can't quite cover. Interior quality lets the Fiesta down compared with the very best superminis, and it isn't quite in the same league as the Polo or Ibiza for its equipment sophistication or practicality, either.

The Fiesta’s ‘Ecoboost’ three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines remain outstanding for their blend of drivability and zest, however, and – even after so long with the same unimpeachable positioning – it remains the supermini that a keen driver should default to almost without thinking. It’s simply miles better to drive than it really needs to be.

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4. Volkswagen Polo

Still the sensible supermini of choice and recently facelifted, the Polo is usable, refined, easygoing, spacious, comfortable, smart to look at and very solidly built. That kind of roster of qualities, presented at a price that isn't as high as for other VW models, makes it one of the very best option in this super-competitive class.

It was a huge departure from the previous-generation Polo, mixing more impressive technology with improved dynamic capabilities.

Its engines are almost universally strong, and both rolling and mechanical refinement are very good, while there’s room in the back seats for average-sized adults as well as kids.

The Polo's ascent up our top 10 list shows how close it is to being the ideal supermini, and that's pretty painfully close.

It used to be at the top, but other cars have come along with a more imaginative appearance, more vim on the road and an interior that feels both more playful and more upmarket. It’s also quite pricey, and cars like the Fiesta and Ibiza are more fun to drive.

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5. Renault Clio

Not only is the Clio still a charming-looking supermini, but also the latest model has gained newfound substance and some new fundamental strengths behind its chic aesthetic. Cabin design, ergonomic layout and perceived quality have all been improved considerably to near class-leading levels, while value for money remains a real strong suit.

The Clio rides challenging stretches of Tarmac with more of a stiff-legged, occasionally slightly wooden-feeling gait than you expect of a French car. It's far from uncomfortable but less supple than it once was.

This more serious gait doesn’t cause it to forgo handling verve, though. It may not have the most communicative steering rack, but its handling is intuitive and natural-feeling, and although the car rolls a bit more than some might like, there’s a striking sense of inherent cornering balance in its chassis.

Sadly, there won’t be an RS version. Instead, the fastest Clio is the 138bhp Renault Clio E-Tech hybrid. For a supermini, that makes it quite expensive, but no more so than hybrid-only rivals like the Toyota Yaris or Honda Jazz.

The E-Tech powertrain can feel a little underpowered in larger cars, but it’s perfect for the Clio and makes it quicker and more engaging than those two Japanese hybrids.

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6. Hyundai i20

The existence of the garden i20 is overshadowed by the sensationally good i20 N derivative at the top of the range, which goes up against the Ford Fiesta ST and, in some respects, the Toyota GR Yaris.

However, there’s a lot to like about the i20, starting with its spacious cabin, big boot and high level of standard equipment.

On the other hand, the cabin ambience isn’t as welcoming as what you get with the Clio and certainly the Polo, and you might expect just a little better in this regard for the money being asked.

In dynamic matters, the i20 is fairly firm-riding, but this does give it an alertness that's lacking in several alternatives. It’s not as enjoyable as the Fiesta, but it’s far from being outright dull.

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7. Dacia Sandero

Superminis are about simple, affordable, insurable transport, and if they’re good to drive, that’s an added bonus. 

We won’t pretend the Sandero is the most rewarding drivers’ car on this page, because it absolutely isn’t. But at just over £12,000 and with plenty of space and a surprising lack of crudeness about its build quality, it has plenty of strength elsewhere. 

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Add in comfortable seats, well-located controls, decent motorway economy and a crisp exterior design and you begin to understand why the Sandero sits so high in our estimations despite being somewhat flat-footed compared with the Fiesta.

Equally, there’s a rather charming simplicity to operating this car, and you can sense its underlying Frenchness – no bad thing.


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8. Toyota Yaris

The fourth-generation Yaris marked a superb return to form, being easily the most appealing iteration of Toyota’s ubiquitous supermini since the packaging hero that was the 1999 original. 

It looks better than ever; handles very nearly as keenly as our class favourites; and, thanks to its hybrid powertrain, is impressively efficient in day-to-day use.

That said, it does lack a bit of straight-line punch, and you need to be mindful of optioning the larger wheels. Doing so introduces a stiffer suspension set-up that can afflict the car’s ride, but on the flipside, it does make the Yaris look even smarter. 

Interior space could be a bit more generous, but the Yaris is nonetheless a very easy supermini to like and a prime example of Toyota’s new found sense of character.

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Toyota yaris top 10

9. Peugeot 208

As an exercise in supermini design, the new 208 might just have been the high point of 2019, and it's still easily one of the best-looking superminis in its class.

It backs up the fine exterior styling with a cabin of genuine richness and impressive perceived quality, as well as ritzy technological features such as 3D digital instruments and widescreen sat-nav.

It’s just a shame that similar attention wasn’t lavished on the underlying cabin architecture, which provides only a compromised bent-legged driving position, only restricted visibility of the i-Cockpit instruments and very limited second-row space.

The car has perfectly amenable on-road manners and rides with particular dynamic polish. Although it handles in a largely surefooted and predictable fashion, it’s possible to coax a degree of playfulness from its chassis, should you go looking for it. It might not be quite as alert or fleet-footed as our class favourites, but it’s far from dull.

Refinement also impresses, as does performance from its three-cylinder petrol engine. For the first time, there’s an electric version, too, called the Peugeot e-208.

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Peugeot 208 top 10

10. Audi A1 Sportback

The second-generation A1 Sportback sits staunchly at the premium end of the supermini class and has a price to match.

There’s plenty to like about the way it looks - particularly in some of the sportier trim levels available. Far from being cutesy, it’s one of the more athletically assertive contenders among cars that are predominantly quite pretty but may be lacking in visual presence.

It handles well and it’s evident that its chassis is biased towards a more enthusiastic style of driving. It’s not quite as alert as a Mini, Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza, but there’s some verve on display here. At the same time, on sports suspension, it can lack finesse, and its steering is a bit too light and tight-lipped to warrant praise.


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Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering. 

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