Six of the best reliable small cars

James Foxall
Written by: James Foxall
Posted on: 29 October 2015

Any driver that’s been left stranded by their car will know there are few things more frustrating than having a car that either grinds to a stop or refuses to start.

Small hatchbacks are some of the best selling models in Britain. Drivers can’t get enough of them, as the mix of affordability and impressive driving manners appeals to such a diverse audience, from first-time drivers to pensioners and everyone in between. But how can car buyers find out which are the most reliable?

We’ve compiled a list of the most reliable small cars money can buy by amalgamating the results of three highly regarded reliability surveys: the Auto Express Driver Power, JD Power and Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index.

Honda Jazz

Although it’s the smallest car in Honda’s range, the Jazz is big on reliability. It features as one of the most dependable cars in all three of our surveys. Available from hundreds of pounds for a tatty used model to the latest version costing from £13,495, the Jazz is more than just trustworthy.

The interior has a degree of practicality that’s rare in this size of car, and it’s cheap to run. While no one would call the Jazz ‘sexy’, there’s got to be a reason why they’re so popular with the older – and some would say wiser – generation.

Toyota Yaris

People frequently forget that when the Yaris was launched in 1999, its blend of space, practicality, economy and handling made rivals such as Ford and Vauxhall up their game.

Like the Jazz, the Yaris is a long way from being the last word in style. Again, like that car, you can buy models from hundreds of pounds upwards. Early versions of the Yaris are surprisingly fun to drive and the car does feature as one of the most reliable cars you can buy in both Auto Express and Warranty Direct surveys.

Suzuki Alto

Let’s be honest, the baby Suzuki is unlikely to feature in any top six other than for reliability. It does so in both JD Power and Warranty Direct surveys. Built on and off – but mainly on since the 1980s, the Alto is totally anonymous to look at and completely unremarkable in virtually every other aspect.

By offering no frills motoring in almost every way, it’s cheap to buy and run. And it’s unlikely to let you down, which is more than can be said for many of its more fêted rivals.

Vauxhall Agila

It’s ironic (although given Japanese cars’ reputation for reliability perhaps not surprising) that the Vauxhall in this reliability list is actually a Suzuki. However it’s uncharitable to suggest that this is none of Vauxhall’s work. Most Suzuki Wagon Rs had 1.3-litre engines while the Vauxhall has a choice of 1.0 and 1.2-litres.

As well as being trustworthy according to Warranty Direct, it’s good if you’re lofty in stature, like wearing top hats, or carrying tall items. It’s not so great as soon as you get it out of town and on the motorway.

Hyundai i10/ Kia Picanto

Hyundai and Kia are members of the same family so the i10 and Picanto are essentially the same car behind different badges. The Hyundai is tuned a little more for comfort; the Picanto for sportiness. But both are well-equipped and according to the owners polled by Auto Express, delightfully reliable.

Toyota iQ

With Toyota’s legendary reputation for building hard-wearing cars, it’s hardly surprising that another of its small cars makes this list, as claimed by owners in the Auto Express survey.

The iQ is compact in size so ideal for city life. And it’s cheap to run and has a surprisingly versatile cabin considering those dinky dimensions.

directline logo
Do you have any  insurance policies  with Direct Line?
Close ×
directline logo
Do you have any  insurance policies  with Direct Line?

Things you need to know about Over 50s life insurance:
Premiums stop after your 90th birthday but you still enjoy cover for the rest of your life. In the first year, if you die from natural causes we will refund any premiums, or if you die as a result of an accident, we will pay your cash sum. After the first year regardless of the cause of death we will pay your cash sum. Depending on how long you live, the total sum paid in premiums may be more than the cash sum payable on death. If you stop paying your premiums before the end of your policy your cover will stop 30 days after your missed premium and you won’t get anything back. This isn’t a savings or investment product and has no cash value unless a valid claim is made. Inflation will reduce the buying power of your cash sum in the future.

Close ×