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Car of the Year Awards 2021: Best small car to drive

Despite the fashion for SUVs, the traditional small car remains the most popular type on the road, with the best brilliant all-rounders that offer excellent value for money...

Best small car to drive

Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 125 ST-Line Edition 5dr

What Car? Car of the Year 2021 logo with sponsor

This wasn’t a tough decision. Britain’s best-selling car has, since its launch in 2017, been head and shoulders above its rivals when it comes to driving manners. Plenty of small cars feel surprisingly grown-up and a few, including the Seat Ibiza, are even genuinely good fun to drive, but nothing puts a smile on your face quite like the Fiesta.

To experience it at its brilliant best, you’ll want to go for sporty ST-Line Edition trim. This replaces the standard suspension with stiffer springs to help the car stay more upright and composed through corners. The impact of this on ride comfort is minimal, although there are more relaxing small cars, including the Volkswagen Polo.


We reckon the 1.0 Ecoboost 125 turbo petrol engine is the pick of the range, but the more powerful Ecoboost 155 is worth a look if you want nippier acceleration. Both have mild hybrid technology, so they’re surprisingly thrifty on fuel, and the beautifully weighted six-speed manual gearbox is a delight to use.

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Read about more Car of the Year 2021 winners >>