Ford Fiesta, £10,145-£19,545
Car buyers aren’t daft; they know a good motor when they see it. That’s why pretty much every month since it was launched way back in 1976 the Ford Fiesta has dominated the sales charts. It is the supermini that has it all: keen prices, sharp looks and the sort of driving experience that some sports car owners would kill for.
It is offered with a superb range of petrol and diesel engines. If it’s a hot hatch that you’re after, the Fiesta ST will serve up all the thrills you need, even if it’s not quite as hardcore as some rivals.
But while the sportiest version is a great car, it’s further down the range that the Fiesta really shines. None of the engines is a dud, but the best of the lot is the three-cylinder EcoBoost unit found in the Fiesta 1.0T.
You’ll be bewildered by the trim options but the mid-range Zetec has everything you’re likely to need, including air-conditioning and a heated windscreen.
- OUR PICK Fiesta 1.0T 5-door Zetec (£14,795)
- POWER 99bhp @ 6000rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 11.2sec
- TOP SPEED 112mph
- FUEL | CO2 65.7mpg (combined) | 99g/km
Volkswagen Up! £8,870-£13,580
When Volkswagen launched the Up! in the UK in 2012 it made all other small cars seem dated. Here was one of the titchiest vehicles around yet it had a grown-up feel inside, drove like a bigger car and came with some big-car equipment. Small cars would never be the same again.
Three years on, some rivals have started to close the gap, but the Up! is still one of the most talented city cars you can buy. It’s great fun to drive, thanks to its light weight and zesty 1-litre three-cylinder engine. It’s offered in 59bhp and 74bhp forms, but it’s worth going for the latter for its useful amount of extra power.
Whichever engine you go for there’s an automatic option that’s fine around town, but on the open road it doesn’t let the Up! shine like the standard five-speed manual gearbox does. There’s a BlueMotion option that drops the CO2 emissions to below 100g/km.
Don’t bother with the entry-level Take Up!, because it’s too basic. The one to go for is the better-specced High Up!
- OUR PICK VW High Up! (£11,875)
- POWER 74bhp @ 6200rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 13.2sec
- TOP SPEED 106mph
- FUEL | CO2 60.1mpg (combined) | 106g/km
Fiat 500, £10,690-£18,640
The Fiat 500 is the Peter Pan of superminis. Ever since it arrived eight years ago it has refused to date and although a facelifted car is about to hit showrooms, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the difference. Underneath it’s a Fiat Panda, which you might not think is the best start in life for a chic supermini, but actually there’s plenty of fun to be had.
Admittedly, most of this fun won’t be through the seat of your pants, because the 500 isn’t all that great to drive. It’s fine, but nothing more so – and that’s if you stick with the petrol engines.
Where the 500 really scores is with the feelgood factor, because it just looks so good both inside and out. The retro interior features a slab of the exterior colour across the dash, a high-mounted gearstick and a large central display in front of the driver. But while those in the front will be having fun, anyone in the back had better be small. So buy a 500 only if you don’t need practicality.
- OUR PICK Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge (£12,440)
- POWER 69bhp @ 5500rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 12.9secTop speed:
- TOP SPEED 99mph
- FUEL | CO2 60.1mpg (combined) | 111g/km
65-plate Special contents
- Electric and hybrid cars
- Family cars
- Sports cars and supercars
- City cars
- Executive and luxury cars
- WAG gags: the words made possible by the 65-plate