RAC Cars News


The Best New Small Cars Of 2014

By raccars Published

It’s been a big year for new car launches in 2014, particularly in the popular small car supermini sector, which accounts for one in three new car sales in Britain. Several big players have been overhauled and a few new takes on old favourites have also been introduced.

Here, then is our rundown of the most significant supermini and small car launches of 2014…

MINI Hatch

RAC Cars attended the launch of the all-new MINI Hatch on the island of Mallorca. It was during the tail end of winter but it wasn’t just the sunny weather that warmed us up – the car was also terrific. Sharp, lively and entertaining, it was also far more grown up, with better refinement, a smoother ride, much-improved economy and a transformed interior. Wrap it up in classic MINI looks and we felt sure the firm had a five-star winner on its hands.

Three year old alternative:

Citroen DS3 – prices from £7,500

MINI Hatch 5-door

The only gripe that remained with the MINI Hatch was its relative lack of interior space and practicality. The rear was a little tight and, although it was bigger, the boot still wasn’t supermini-sized. MINI clearly knew all this and had a trick up its sleeve that it launched later in 2014 – the MINI Hatch 5-door. With a longer wheelbase, taller roofline and those all-important rear doors, it lost little of the regular car’s spirit but finally made it genuinely supermini-like with practicality for passengers and luggage alike.

Three year old alternative:

Audi A1 Sportback – prices from £12,500

Skoda Fabia

Skoda launched an all-new Fabia in 2014 and the third-generation model will start hitting UK dealers in January 2015. Even though the outgoing car is large, roomy and practical, this is even more roomy and practical – but without being any bigger on the outside. The 330-litre boot is larger than any other supermini and Skoda’s also upped the tech count. It even has a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone-pairing MirrorLink technology. Great value prices are a given.

Three year old alternative:

SEAT Ibiza – prices from £5,750

Vauxhall Corsa

The old Corsa was a car past its best. This model should be vying with the Ford Fiesta for UK sales leader status, but it simply lacked the talent and appeal to manage this. This has all been fixed with the new one – it’s a car transformed. The neat styling may be a little familiar but everything beneath is new. An overhauled interior is centered around a high-tech touchscreen system, technology Ford simply can’t offer on the Fiesta, and the drive is considerably better than it was. One to watch.

Three year old alternative:

Ford Fiesta – prices from £5,000

Renault Twingo

Remember the original Renault Twingo? Maybe not, because it was left-hand drive only and reserved for France, although keen enthusiasts did import models into the UK, simply because it was such an innovative and appealing car. We did get the second generation here in Britain, but it was dull and prosaic, so few bought it. It’s all change again for this third-generation car: co-designed with Smart, it’s stylish, cleverly packaged and fun to drive. Has the Twingo’s time here in the UK finally arrived?

Three year old alternative:

Nissan Pixo – prices from £4,500

Smart Fortwo

The cross-brand sister car to the Renault Twingo, Smart’s all-new Fortwo builds upon the strengths of the funky but bouncy original. It’s not quite as brilliantly packaged as it was, but the extra dimensions bring a welcome dose of comfort, and the handling is more stable too. With a good selection of onboard technology sourced from parent firm Mercedes-Benz, it’s a car that still has a place here in the UK.

Three year old alternative:

Toyota iQ – prices from £5,000

Smart Forfour

For those who simply can’t consider a car without four seats and four doors, Smart now offers the bigger brother to the Fortwo – yes, the Smart Forfour. The two share a basic structure, meaning this is also closely related to the Renault Twingo: what Smart’s really selling here is the car’s high quality, its premium image and its sheer configurability. Just the thing for those who live in the city but still want something with status.

Three year old alternative:

Suzuki Swift – prices from £5,500

Citroen C4 Cactus

Here’s a supermini with a twist – the wonderfully leftfield Citroen C4 Cactus. A little bigger than cars such as the Citroen C3, it’s priced to offer big car motoring on a budget, with value being added by its modern, standout styling. Think of it as an IKEA car, bringing modernist design to the masses, with a few innovations thrown in too: we promise you’ll love the AirBumps on the side, there to both soak up supermarket prangs but also look fantastic…

Three year old alternative:

Skoda Octavia – prices from £7,000

Hyundai i20

Hyundai’s range has been transformed in recent years but the ageing i20 has lagged behind, lacking the appeal of cars such as the i30 and ix35. Enter this all-new one, designed and built here in Europe to take on the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. Hyundai has big hopes for this car and, based on a first drive, we agree it’s a much more appealing proposition. Expect to see a lot of it in 2015.

Three year old alternative:

Kia Rio – prices from £4,500

Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 108

Toyota launched an all-new Aygo in 2014 – closely followed by its sister cars, the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108. All three offer fun-to-drive spirit for city car drivers, particularly models fitted with the sweet 1.0-litre engine (we prefer it to the 1.2, although you can’t actually get this unit in the Aygo). All three are also safer, more refined and available with modern gadgetry; they’re roomier than before as well, despite minimal exterior changes. Prices are similar for all three: which you choose is down to styling and which dealer you prefer!

Three year old alternative:

Kia Picanto – prices from £5,000

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