When it comes to making small cars, the big German auto manufacturers produce some of the best, most recognisable vehicles in the class. Expect solid build quality and magnificent engineering, from renowned brands like Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.


Small cars have a lot of big selling points and a whole load of advantages, particularly when it comes to driving in a big city. If you’re not sure whether this class of car is right for you, check out some of the points below and see if they can help you make a decision. Usually, small cars:

  • Are more affordable with a low cost starting price
  • Have lower running costs, with good miles per gallon (MPG) and cheap insurance
  • Are very agile and easy to manoeuvre
  • Have compact dimensions that allow you to park in smaller parking spaces
  • Can be good fun to drive
  • Are great for young and new drivers, helping to build confidence through their ease of use
  • Are usually more spacious, practical, and comfortable than the ‘small’ tag suggests


When it comes to the best small cars made by German manufacturers, you can usually expect a little something extra and above. Typically, such vehicles enjoy premium styling, great build quality, reliability, and a certain level of luxury. They’re often very popular too, with lots of great new and used deals available. Read on and discover our top 10 best small German cars.


The ever-popular Volkswagen Golf is a best-selling car for the German company and you can see why. The small car enjoys strong build quality, an impressive level of refinement, and a premium cabin. Furthermore, it offers an excellent driving experience and a great selection of efficient engines for those all-important lower running costs. It is simply a fantastic hatchback, one that has wide appeal, from families to new drivers. And because of its popularity, there are thousands of models on the used car market, so you should have no trouble finding a deal near you. The Golf has an average price of £14k, but you can always find older variants for a lot less, including brilliant deals for £5k and less.

Best features:

  • Strong build quality
  • Refined, premium cabin
  • Excellent driving experience

Used Prices from £400

2. AUDI A1

When it comes to superminis with badge appeal and superior German build quality, there are few to rival the Audi A1. The stylish car might have a high-starting price for its sector when buying new, but as a used car you can get it for a lot less with average prices around £13.2k. Of course, deals can always be enjoyed for cheaper, with hundreds of A1 models for under £10k. And at those prices you can get an excellent supermini for your money. It’s great to drive, it has a sporty design, a well-laid out interior, and good levels of practicality. It also offers good miles per gallon and low running costs. However, when it comes to insurance, younger drivers should be aware that the A1’s premium badge leads to a higher insurance group compared to other cars of this class.

Best features:

  • Premium supermini
  • Superior build quality
  • Great to drive

Used Prices from £4,000


One of the very best superminis on the market and a consistent best-selling car in the UK, the Volkswagen Polo helps set the standards of the class. It is a lot of fun to drive, way more practical than its size suggests, and has a comfortable cabin with a premium finish to it and an excellent layout. The car is also very safe, with strong German build quality. Furthermore, it offers good economy too, whether buying a newer or older variant. And when it comes to purchasing a used model, you will find there are thousands available. The Polo has an affordable average price as well, sitting at just £9,862.

Best features:

  • Fun to drive
  • Comfortable cabin
  • Strong build quality

Used Prices from £250


When it comes to the city car sector, Volkswagen is another leader in this department with the VW UP. Available with a range of frugal petrol engines or as an all-electric model (the e-Up), this compact vehicle offers very low running costs and a cheap insurance bracket. The car is well-built and agile for zipping across the city, and is also good to drive. And when it comes to buying a used model, average prices start at a very affordable £7.4k. Furthermore, the Up shares a platform with the Skoda Citigo and the Seat Mii. The three siblings are very similar to one another, so if you like the sound of one, you can always check out the others in the hope of finding an even better deal.

Best features:

  • Good to drive
  • Low running costs
  • Affordable starting price

Used Prices from £2,000

5. AUDI A3

With older models available in three or five-door variants, the Audi A3 is a premium compact family hatchback. It’s also one of Audi’s best-selling vehicles in Britain and that normally equates to fantastic used deals being available on the second-hand market. And that’s certainly the case here, with thousands of pre-owned A3s for sale. It means you should have no trouble finding models near you and at good prices too, with an average sale price of £15k. And what do you get for your money? Well, the A3 offers a spacious and practical cabin, an excellent safety record, impressively low running costs, and an enjoyable driving experience – all wrapped in a stylish design with a classy interior.

Best features:

  • Spacious and practical
  • Low running costs
  • Enjoyable to drive

Used Prices from £700


Mercedes-Benz has a premium image that is synonymous with luxury. The company’s compact family hatchback, the A-Class, continues to uphold such statements, carrying all the hallmarks of the famous marque. The A-Class has a stylish exterior and a high-quality interior that sets the standards of the segment. It also offers an excellent driving experience and, as you’d expect from Mercedes, strong build quality. When it comes to the used car market, there are thousands of pre-owned A-Class models for purchase with an average price of £17,585. The A-Class holds its value well, so finding a low-cost variant for under £10k will usually involve models from 2007 and earlier and/or higher mileage.  Nonetheless, when it comes to premium hatchbacks the A-Class is a leader.

Best features:

  • Stylish exterior
  • Very high-quality interior
  • Excellent to drive


Used Prices from £500


Another car from a German manufacturer that is one of the most popular on British roads, the Vauxhall Corsa is a superb supermini that is very cheap to run and very affordable to buy, with an average cost of just £7k. The car has long been popular with new and young drivers, partly because of its excellent price tag, but also because it’s easy to drive and quite good fun. It might not be the best supermini in the class, but it is very well-rounded and great value for money. Buying a used Corsa, you’ll have your pick from thousands of models too, with a lot of affordable deals to suit a wide variety of budgets.

Best features:

  • Very affordable supermini
  • Easy to drive
  • Great value for money

Used Prices from £400


Rival to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3, the BMW 1 Series is a premium family hatchback that is lots of fun to drive, with refined driving manners. As you’d expect from a prestigious marque like BMW, the car has excellent build quality, stylish looks, and a high-quality cabin. Like the A-Class, the 1 Series also holds its value well. However, it has a lower average price at £13.5k, bringing BMW levels of luxury at a more affordable cost. There are thousands of 1 Series cars to choose from too, with a great range of models and mileages. Best of all, most come well-equipped as standard as well, adding to the premium feel.

Best features:

  • Lots of fun to drive
  • Excellent build quality
  • Stylish looks

Used Prices from £700

9. BMW i3

With a funky futuristic exterior and interior, the BMW i3 carves its own style, with unique looks unlike any other vehicle in its segment. And it is all the more charming for it. The car is available as a full electric vehicle (EV) or as ‘range extender’ aided by a two-cylinder motor located beneath the floor of the boot. It’s nimble and quick, with good acceleration and a quiet cabin, just as you’d expect from an EV. However, it may take drivers a while to get used to the regenerative braking system, but once you do, the i3 offers a very good driving experience. As a newer car, you won’t find as many used deals on the market compared to others on this list and average prices are around £22.3k. There is still a decent selection to choose from though, and if you opt for an i3 you will certainly get very cheap running costs.

Best features:

  • Funky exterior and interior
  • Good to drive
  • Nimble and quick

Used Prices from £13,000


Okay, so this entry is a little bit of a cheat, as the Porsche Macan is not a small car. It is German, however, and it is one of the smaller cars, in price and stature, in Porsche’s prestigious range. And as a small compact SUV, no car comes close to the Porsche Macan. It is highly refined, with a spacious and comfortable cabin, and it offers the best driving experience you’ll encounter in an SUV. In fact, many would go as far to say that it is the best SUV on the market.  Prices average at around £45k for the Macan and because the car is so well loved, you will have to do some legwork to find a good deal, as drivers are naturally a little more reluctant to sell it on. But then again, to own a Porsche is to join an exclusive club, so many will find the search well worth it.

Best features:

  • Best SUV to drive
  • Refined and spacious
  • Prestigious brand

Used Prices from £24,000

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