Most reliable small cars

If you're buying a small car, chances are you can't afford for it to need frequent repairs. Fortunately, our latest Reliability Survey reveals the most and least dependable models...

Best small cars for reliability

Small cars are affordable to buy, but they also need to be durable and cheap to fix, because they're frequently owned by students or used as second family cars.

With that in mind, the annual What Car? Reliability Survey has vital information on which are the best models and which are most likely leave you stranded at the roadside or put a big dent in your wallet.

We asked more than 18,000 people to tell us about any faults their cars had suffered during the past 12 months, and how much it cost to get problems put right. Then we used this data to give each model a unique reliability rating.

So, here's our round-up of the best and worst small cars aged up to five years old. And once you’ve read this story, please tell us about the reliability of your own car.

10. Skoda Fabia (2015 on)

Skoda Fabia

Reliability rating 95.8%

Although 17% of Fabias had a fault, the most common (6%) were minor issues with the battery; the next most frequently cited area was the engine, with 3% of owners reporting problems. Virtually all cars could still be driven and half were repaired in less than a day. More than three-quarters of repairs were done for free under warranty, and no bills exceeded £300. 

Volkswagen Up

Reliability rating 96.6%

Only 12% of Up city cars had a fault, according to owners, with the most problematic area being the battery; 5% of problems were with this component. Issues with brakes, the fuel system and suspension were reported on 2% of cars. Most cars could still be driven and more than half were back on the road the same day. Half were fixed for free, and where owners were asked to pay, the highest bills were £200.   

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8. Toyota Aygo (2014 on)

2018 Toyota Aygo review – price, specs and release date

Reliability rating 96.9%

Although 18% of Aygos suffered a problem, they were mainly minor issues, with the areas concerned split evenly between the bodywork, brakes and sat-nav. All cars were still driveable and half were back on the road the same day, with the remainder repaired in less than a week. All were fixed under warranty. 

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7. Honda Jazz (2008-2015)

Honda Jazz

Reliability rating 97.0%

Even though the cars reported on here are the very last of this older generation of Jazz, only 12% of owners said their car had a problem, and the only area concerned was non-engine electrics. The vast majority of cars could still be driven and were sorted out in less than a day; only a small percentage took more than a week to put right. Nearly half were fixed for free and bills didn't top £300. 

Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid Icon CVT

Reliability rating 97.2%

Only 7% of Yaris owners reported a fault with their car, with the only problem area being the air conditioning. All cars could still be driven, with two-thirds being fixed the same day and the rest taking less than a week to repair. A third of work was done for free and no repair bills exceeded £200. 

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5. Hyundai i10 (2014-2020)

Hyundai i10

Reliability rating 97.6%

Slightly more i10s had a problem, at 11%, with the engine and gearbox being the most frequently cited areas. Other issues centred on non-engine electrics. All cars could still be driven, but half took more than a week to repair. However, all work was carried out for free under warranty.  

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4. Skoda Citigo (2012-2020)

Skoda Citigo

Reliability rating 97.7%

Only 11% of Citigos went wrong, according to owners, and non-engine electrical niggles were to blame for two-thirds of issues; the remainder involved the engine. A third of cars couldn't be driven, but all were back on the road in less than a week. All repairs were done under warranty. 

3. Dacia Sandero (2013 on)

Dacia Sandero 1.0 SCe Access

Reliability rating 97.9%

The Dacia Sandero is based on an old Renault Clio, meaning it’s full of proven parts. Just 11% of owners reported a fault, most commonly with the battery, then the exhaust, interior trim and non-engine electrics. All Sanderos remained driveable, but some took more than a week to fix and landed owners with bills of up to £100. 

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2. Honda Jazz (2015 on)

Honda Jazz

Reliability rating 98.3%

The Honda Jazz has a strong reputation for reliability and backed that up in our survey. Only 11% had a problem and all were minor issues with non-engine electrical systems. All remained driveable and were fixed the same day, although some repairs cost up to £50. 

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1. Suzuki Celerio (2015-2020)

Suzuki Celerio

Reliability rating 98.9%

Suzuki Celerio owners don't have much cause to return to dealerships. A mere 7% reported a fault with their car, and only the gearbox was affected. While that sounds serious, all cars could still be driven and all were fixed under warranty in less than a week.

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