Superminis represent a huge portion of the vehicle market, and account for 40% of the most popular models in the UK in 2013, with the hugely popular Ford Fiesta taking the top spot. Why are superminis so popular? Well, they’re cheap to buy and cheap to run, can usually fit a small family, and these days offer up a surprisingly competent drive. Almost every mass producing car manufacturer has a supermini option within their range, meaning there is an absolutely huge amount of choice – from the Fiat 500 to the Aston Martin Cygnet. We choose the most popular superminis and pit them against each other to figure out exactly which one is the best.
A car doesn’t become Britain’s best-seller (and by a country mile too) without being the complete package. The Ford Fiesta is just that – the drive is superb, and if you’re looking for more power, there are upgrades (all the way up to the iconic Ford Fiesta ST) meaning you won’t be completely outclassed on motorway drives. The car is roomy enough for a small family, and though we would probably recommend the Focus if you’re going to be wrestling with child seats, the Fiesta is still a popular choice, especially for those trying to save a little money. As expected from this category, the Fiesta has good fuel economy and low carbon emissions. In fact, car magazines have unanimously agreed that the Fiesta is one of the best superminis on the market, and brilliant all-rounder.
Hot at the tails of the Ford Fiesta in terms of sales, the Vauxhall Corsa is Britain’s 4th most popular car overall. The Corsa doesn’t pack quite as much punch as the Fiesta, but if you’re looking for a car with a bit more refinement, the Corsa is the best choice. When the newest 2006 version was released, it won Best Supermini from Auto Express’ car of the year awards, and though critics now prefer the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, the Corsa is undeniably still a strong contender. For something with a little bit more power, consider the popular VXR spec.
It’s a bit more expensive than the other superminis on this list, but in terms of drive quality and refinement it can’t be beaten. The A1 has brilliant performance that is unmatched in its category and a cabin worthy of the Audi brand. If the Audi A1 fails to impress, check out the brand new Audi S1 which goes on sale later this year – it’s been given a facelift, has Audi patented Quattro system and most importantly goes like a rocket.
The Fiat 500 is considerably smaller than the other superminis mentioned so far, and shows a growing divide between the larger cars in the category and the smaller ones. Some would even claim that it is unfair to judge it in the same category, but since it is proving to be such a popular car, we believe it can certainly hold its weight, and is a viable alternative to its bigger rivals. There is a growing market for small cars like this, which are easy to park, economical to run, and more often than not are described as ‘cute’. In fact the Fiat 500, which comes in a huge range of editions, is perfect for drivers who want a nippy little run around without the need for the extra room. This car is fashionable, and whether or not you agree, the sales (and 5 star reviews for that matter) speak for themselves.
No list of superminis would be complete without the iconic Mini Cooper, a car which has spanned the years and (despite being owned by a German company) symbolises the epitome of Britishness. When the Mini brand was revived, it was met with some criticism by die-hard enthusiasts, but the much needed update soon became one of the favourite choices of cars in the supermini category. Critics are all in agreement that it is one of the most exciting cars in the category to drive, and it comes with buckets of character that is somewhat lacking in some of the others on this list (take note Vauxhall and Ford.) Mini Coopers hold their value well thanks to the fact that they are such a desirable car, and come in a huge range of models that suit every kind of lifestyle.
So there’s the five contenders for the crown – but which car will come out on top? Obviously the choice is difficult, because we all look for different things in our cars. If you’re looking for character, the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper are surely the only choices, but if it’s power you’re after, the Ford Fiesta ST is easily the leading model. Whatever your choice, make it wisely – the supermini category is easily the most competitive out there, with almost all manufacturers vying for a slice of this lucrative market.