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The 10 best small cars for motorway driving

In the past, small cars weren't the best choice for motorway driving.

With short wheelbases, cheap components and minimal sound deadening, taking a small car on a fast road used to be a bouncy, noisy affair. Plus, with little engines designed for efficiency, these models often need a good thrashing to get up to overtaking speeds.

It doesn't have to be this way, however. These 10 small cars are equally at home on long motorway journeys as they are trekking through tight city streets. You'll find all available as great-value used cars from Motorpoint.

Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10 in blue

The Hyundai i10 is one of our favourite small cars, full stop. It's simply superb to drive, with the agility and deft handling you want from a small car, but with the maturity and compliance you'll normally find in a much larger, pricier car. Motorway drivers should avoid the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine as it's quite sluggish, but the 1.2-litre petrol or 1.0-litre T-GDi turbo petrol model have more power, making the car feel more relaxed at higher speeds. It's clever, too, with far more passenger and cargo space than you'd expect from such a small frame.

Search used Hyundai i10 cars for sale or read our Hyundai i10 review

Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo in purple

More than one million Volkswagen Polos have found homes during the model's lifetime, mainly thanks to its quietly brilliant combination of quality and usability. The most recent model is a fine addition to the lineage with stable, surefooted handling and graceful body control that means it feels totally relaxed regardless of the type of road you're on. Pair the predictable handling with Volkswagen's selection of punchy turbocharged engines, and you have a car that's extremely easy to live with on long motorway drives.

Take a look at used Volkswagen Polo cars or read our Volkswagen Polo review

Renault Clio

Renault Clio in orange

In a class containing the excellent Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, there's a risk the Renault Clio ends up being forgotten. However, this sharp-suited city slicker carves its own path thanks to eye-catching styling, a well-balanced driving experience and the option of super-smart hybrid engines. On the road, the Clio's maturity stands out, with a relatively soft suspension setup that soaks up bumps without compromising the car's grippy, easygoing handling. Refinement is strong, too, with engine and road noise kept to a minimum.

Browse used Renault Clio cars or read our Renault Clio review

Peugeot 208

Peugeot 208 in blue

The Peugeot 208 is another French hatchback that's undergone a serious 'glow up'. Recent models include a snazzy cabin with a dinky steering wheel, slick piano-key-style buttons and a minimalist touchscreen-based infotainment setup. One of the car's best features, however, is its grown-up driving experience, with a comfortable ride, impressive refinement and easy, predictable handling. You also get the benefit of Peugeot's excellent 1.2-litre turbocharged PureTech petrol engines, which are powerful and responsive.

Shop used Peugeot 208 cars for sale or read our Peugeot 208 review

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta in white

If you asked us what the best-driving small car is, we'd be hard-pressed to say anything other than the Ford Fiesta. This icon of British roads might've been pushed aside by the Ford Puma now, but you can still find plenty for sale on the used market. It's fun to drive and easy to control regardless of where you're actually driving, feeling equally under control whether you're zipping through tight urban streets or covering big miles on the motorway. Choose one of Ford's popular EcoBoost petrol engines for effortless overtaking.

Check out used Ford Fiesta cars or read our Ford Fiesta review

Skoda Citigo

Skoda Citigo in white

For years, the Skoda Citigo – along with its platform mates, the Volkswagen Up and SEAT Mii – has been a popular choice among buyers who need good practicality in a really small car. It's not just the clever cabin and surprisingly deep boot that impress, however, because the Citigo blends the snappy handling you want from a tiny city car, with the kind of body control and compliance over bumps you might find in a saloon. The 1.0-litre engine comes in 59 or 74hp outputs, and we'd hunt down the latter if you're planning on a few motorway trips.

Search used Skoda Citigo cars

Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra in red

You're unlikely to find your pulse racing at the thought of driving a Nissan Micra, but try one out and you might find this little city car has far more quality than you'd first expect. For one, the cabin is trimmed with a generous amount of soft-touch materials and all models come well equipped as standard. As a bonus, the ride is fairly soft and ably tunes out big bumps and small vibrations from broken road surfaces. Plus, with a little low-down grunt from its 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, the Micra is a relaxing car to drive at higher speeds.

View used Nissan Micra cars for sale or read our Nissan Micra review

Audi A1

Audi A1 in blue

Most of the cars on this list earn their spot as a top motorway miler by combining a soft, composed ride with a little extra power under the bonnet. The Audi A1 already possesses those qualities but adds a healthy portion of premium features and trimmings to the mix. That means you'll find more plush materials and more upmarket styling details throughout the A1's cabin to lift it above its more plain competitors. The icing on top is the A1's slick infotainment system that looks thoroughly up-to-date and includes all the functions you could ask for.

Check out used Audi A1 cars or read our Audi A1 review

Suzuki Swift Sport

Suzuki Swift Sport in red

A common stumbling block small cars face on the motorway is their limited engine power. You don't need a race car to slog up the M6, but a little power under your foot means you won't have to swap to a lower gear to overtake traffic, nor bury your foot into the carpet any time you hit an incline. That's where the Suzuki Swift Sport comes in, taking the practical and well-priced Swift as a starting point, and adding a muscular 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and a mild-hybrid system for good measure. It turns every slip road into a quarter mile dash.

Find used Suzuki Swift Sport cars

Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto in yellow

Under the bodywork, the Kia Picanto is essentially a Hyundai i10 and, like that car, the little Kia is also a top-notch choice for motorway driving despite its compact, affordable billing. That means you'll find the same Tardis-like cabin with lots of passenger space despite the car's tiny body, and all the equipment you could ask for as you move higher up the range. Again, avoid the wheezy entry-level 1.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine, with the 1.2-litre being a better choice, and the 1.0-litre T-GDi turbo making an ideal motorway companion.

See used Kia Picanto cars or read our Kia Picanto review

Find a motorway mile-muncher for less

Check out a huge selection of nearly new and used cars at Motorpoint. To see more tempting choices, take a look at our picks for the best small SUVs.

Best small cars for motorway driving FAQs