Renault Twingo 1.2 75 Dynamique
Target Price 8773
This is proof of the old adage that good things come to those who wait. Renault didn't import the original Twingo to the UK, so we had to wait until this model appeared before we could claim to have been Twingo-ed. It was well worth the wait.
Today's Twingo is surprisingly mature: it's easy to thread through congested city streets, but with a supple ride, too. It's also spacious, with enough room for four if you push the sliding rear seats right back, while standard equipment includes air-con and alloy wheels.
If we have some misgivings, they centre on the unadventurous looks. There's also a bit too much hard grey plastic in the cabin, but it's not enough to take the shine off a decent car.
Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i+ 3dr
Target Price 7573
Citron and Peugeot also make versions of this car the C1 and 107 but for us the Aygo is the most appealing. There's something about its combination of style, kit and cost that sways us in its direction.
It's got bags of character that starts with its distinctive styling, but also extends into the fresh and fun-loving cabin, with its heater controls that glow orange when the headlights are on.
Then there's the great little three-cylinder engine, whose thrum is all part of the car's charm. It also makes the car nippy around town and, if you work it hard, you won't get left behind on faster roads.
Fiat Panda 1.2 Dynamic Eco
Target Price 6792
With the 500 hogging the limelight in Fiat showrooms, it's easy to forget that the company makes other superminis. Take the Panda, for instance: it's just the thing for someone who has to turn down the 500 because it's not practical enough.
Admittedly, the Panda won't worry the biggest superminis, and rear legroom is a bit tight, but this small car can carry out occasional family duties. It's a five-door hatchback, for a start, but the tall body gives good all-round headroom, and the boot's a good shape. Above all, it's fun to drive and should be cheap to run. This model is in group 2 for insurance and averages not far short of 60mpg.
Best of all, you can get this great little car for less than 6800 if you haggle hard enough and, if you've got a car to scrap, it can be yours for less than 6000.
Suzuki Swift 1.3 GL 5dr
Target Price 8536
It's credit to the basic 'right-ness' of the Swift's design that, even four years after it was launched, it's still one of the smartest superminis. Just setting your eyes on one will put a smile on your face, and it's a smile that will only widen when you drive it. The Swift is nimble and responsive around town, visibility is good, and it offers fine handing and decent grip beyond the city limits.
It's well priced, too, with this basic GL model coming with electric front windows, a CD player, and twin front, side and curtain airbags. Sadly, you'll need to opt for the 1.5-litre engine to get air-conditioning, but at least the 1.5 5dr GLX is only just over 10,000.
There are a few complaints, but they don't go much beyond a driving position that could be more flexible, a boot that could be a bit bigger, and an engine that could be a little quieter.
Mazda 2 1.3 75 TS (AC) 3dr
Target Price 8876
Once upon a time, French car makers had a monopoly on chic city runarounds. Now, their Japanese counterparts have caught up so how about a look at the smart little Mazda 2 supermini?
The car's beauty is more than skin-deep. Underneath, the Mazda 2 shares a lot with the Ford Fiesta, our current Car of the Year, which means that it drives well. Its steering is light around town, and the firm suspension gives it plenty of grip in corners. The downside is a stiff ride and, in an effort to reduce weight, Mazda appears to have sacrificed some of the soundproofing materials in it, because lots of road noise makes it into the cabin.
However, that's about as far as major complaints go for the Mazda 2. There's enough room inside the car to seat four people or five at a pinch and the cabin is well laid out. The prices are very competitive, too, running costs for it are low and you have the peace of mind of Mazda's tremendous reliability record.