The supermini?

Supermini is a term describing cars larger than the average ‘city car’ but not quite in the same league as the average family car. First coined, perhaps amusingingly, by the Economist in description of the latest Lada, the term has come to describe a range of cars with city friendly size, good ownership and running costs, and range enough o handle more distance driving. Many have eco models available, which are surprisingly economical in fuel costs, and don’t tend to lack in performance. Insurance can still be quite steep, depending on how sporty you head. Engine capacity is increasingly efficient, so many superminis run surprisingly well with small engines, and tend be environmentally efficient.

The field has improved mightily in recent years to encompass some genuinely premium models, and the price tag offers owners the chance to own a coveted brand like Audi at rather more reasonable prices. Style is important, and most manufacturers have worked hard on providing sleek, exciting and sometimes quirky offerings, but performance is equally an issue, and many now provide a fun, but clever driving experience. Our favourites

The Mini. A design classic, much loved in Britain, which is fun to drive, well built and sophisticated, although probably at the expensive end of the market.

The Alfa Mito. Love them or loathe them, Alfa Romeo have a loyal following, and the Mito is an excellent entry level model. Stylish, distinctive and a pleasure to drive, the multiple driving modes make for a fun experience. The Multiair intake system optimises the mix of fuel and air to make for a smooth experience, although the ride can be hard and bumpy.

The Ford Fiesta. Another old favourite, common, but beautifully designed, with a good range of engines, a smooth and reliable drive – no wonder it’s been Britain’s best seller for as long as it has.

The Audi A1. Small, cute, but with unmistakeably aggressive Audi styling, the A1 has become an excellent premium supermini purchase. The interior is elegant, and the feel is what you would expect from an Audi this size, although can also have quite a hard ride.

The Fiat 500. The Fiat is another cute, Italian offering, and very distinctive indeed. Another Marmite purchase with a retro feel and a comfortable, stylish interior. The Fiat is small, although feels fairly roomy inside and is one of the smallest supermini’s on the market.

The Citroen DS3. The DS3 is as quirky as you would expect from Citroen, in miniature. Offering a comfortable and spacious interior which happily seats 5, they are also have customisable roof colours, and perform well