Mini Cooper 1.6
Target Price 13,581
Okay, we'll admit that for the full Mini Cooper experience you need one of the more powerful versions, but they're expensive.
Besides, you're not too badly short-changed if you go for the cheapest Cooper, anyway. For a start, it certainly looks the part and it is brilliant fun to drive, with kart-like handling, well-weighted and informative steering, and a peppy 1.6-litre petrol engine that just loves being revved hard.
Best of all, this is a car that will keep your head as happy as your heart. You can expect fuel economy of around 50mpg, and the Mini's desirability ensures that resale values are rock-solid. You can even buy the bargain-priced TLC package, which takes care of five years' servicing for just 150.
Yes, it's a long way from being the most practical car in its class, but who cares? Superminis simply don't get any more funky and desirable than this.
Skoda Octavia Estate 1.4 TSI SE
Target Price 13,606
If you want as much practicality as your pound can buy, look no further. For the price of a top-end Ford Fiesta, this is one of only a handful of family estates to have a five-star rating for space and practicality.
That said, the Skoda Octavia doesn't do anything remarkable, it just does the basics but does them all very well. It has lots of cubbies around the cabin, there's good rear legroom and it has a class-leading 560-litre boot. It's a shame that the sill is rather high and in this model, as in most Octavias, the loadbay has a step in it when the rear seats are folded, but that's it for complaints.
The standard equipment, ride and refinement are all good, and you can feel the influence of the VW Group in the excellent build quality. How does Skoda manage to do it for the price?
Renault Twingo Renaultsport Cup
Target Price 11,433
You may think that the numbers don't add up to 'hot hatch' after all, this little French fancy has only 131bhp and just a 1.6-litre engine but the Twingo Renaultsport Cup is proof that hot hatches are as much about attitude as anything else. It has that in spades.
To make it, Renault took the regular Twingo Renaultsport, fettled and lowered the suspension, and fitted bigger wheels. The result is a car that's gone from lively and responsive to one that feels hard-wired to your hands and feet. It looks great, too, with a suitably in-your-face bodykit and splashes of orange in the cabin.
Naturally, there are compromises to be made this is a noisy car and it's not as frugal as you may expect. It's incredibly cheap by hot hatch standards, though, and is so much fun that, in our 10-car megatest last month, it shamed some considerably more expensive cars.
Seat Ibiza 1.6 16v SE DSG
Target Price 11,572
If you're looking for the supreme in city-slicking superminis, this could be just the car for you.
The Ibiza is a smart-looking little thing, good to drive and reasonably spacious, but what really sets it apart is the wonderful DSG semi-automatic gearbox. There's no clutch pedal, so you're not forever pumping your left leg in city traffic and, whether you have the gearbox in full-auto mode or change gear yourself, it's never less than perfectly smooth.
Vauxhall Corsa 1.4i 16v Club (AC) 5dr
Target Price 11,664
It's only the Ford Fiesta that stops the Corsa from still being the most super of superminis. In 2007, the Corsa was our Car of the Year, and it was voted the top supermini in 2008.
The good news for buyers is that the qualities that helped it to those titles still shine through today. In five-door form, it's one of the most spacious and refined cars in its class, and it's a fine drive in this softly suspended Club trim: easy around town and composed when the roads turn twisty.
'Maturity' is perhaps the word that best sums the car up, and that is reflected in the classy trim inside. You'll be just as pleased with the near-50mpg you'll get from the engine and this Club model's good standard equipment level.