WhatCarAwards banner - desktop

In association with MotorEasy

Reliability Survey: Most and least reliable small cars

In our annual Reliability Survey, we ask readers to rate the dependability of cars aged up to five years old. Here we list the most and least reliable small cars in the UK...

Reliability small cars

Small hatchbacks are often relied on by those with the tightest budgets, such as new drivers and students, and that means they need to keep soldiering on with no unexpected repair bills.

The good news is that small cars have become more reliable in the past year – the score for the class has risen from 92.1% in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey to 95.1%, according to the latest data.

How the research was carried out

We asked thousands of car owners to give us the lowdown on how reliable their car had been over the previous 24 months. First we asked them to tell us if the car had suffered a fault, and, if so, how much each problem had cost to put right and how long it had kept the car off the road.

The latest What Car? Reliability Survey, conducted in association with MotorEasy, was compiled using this information. It contains data on 178 models aged up to five years old from 32 different car brands.

The 2024 What Car? Reliability Survey is live, tell us about your car now

Most reliable small cars

1. Suzuki Swift (2017-2024)

Suzuki Swift

Reliability rating 99.5%

What went wrong? Interior trim 4%

The 2017-2024 Suzuki Swift trumped all its rivals to take the accolade of most dependable small car. A mere 4% of the owners who completed our survey reported any issues with their cars, and the only area to give them any grief was the interior trim. All remedial work was completed in a day or less, demonstrating that faults were minor. Even better, all work was done for free.

Owner’s view: “My Swift has been so reliable I’ll get another one in a few years.”


  • Very low fault rate
  • All cars could still be driven
  • All cars fixed for free


  • Some issues with interior trim 

2. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (2011-2020)

Toyota Yaris

Reliability rating 99.3%

With a fault rate of just 3%, the previous-generation Yaris Hybrid beats its newer successor. Failure of the 12-volt battery was the only fault reported. It’s inconvenient that the fault rendered affected cars undriveable, but no car was in the garage for more than a day and all repairs were done free of charge.


  • Hybrid components highly reliable
  • All faults minor
  • Toyota paid for all remedial work


  • Faults stopped cars from being driven
  • Fautls with 12-volt battery 

=3. Hyundai i10 (2014-2020)

Hyundai i10 1.2 SE auto

Reliability rating 98.6%

Electrical issues were the only complaint of the 12% of 2014-2020 Hyundai i10 owners who said their cars had gone wrong over the previous 24 months. None of the faults seem to have been too serious, though, because all were rectified in a day or less. On top of this, the cost of all work was covered by Hyundai, so no owners were left out of pocket.   


  • No-cost repairs for all faulty cars
  • All cars fixed within a day
  • Faulty cars remained driveable


  • Higher fault rate than rivals
  • Owners reported electrical issues   

=3. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (2020-present)

Toyota Yaris front right tracking

Reliability rating 98.6%

While not quite as reliable as its predecessor, the latest Toyota Yaris is a sound bet as a robust small car. Only 6% suffered an issue, all concerning the engine electrics, and all repairs were free. However, although all of the affected cars remained driveable, the faults put them off the road for more than a week.


  • Hardly any owners reported problems
  • Toyota paid for all repairs
  • Faults didn't stop cars from being driven


  • Not quite as dependable as previous model
  • Repair work was slow

5. Honda Jazz (2015-2020)

Honda Jazz

Reliability rating 98.5%

Only 9% of the 2015-2020 Honda Jazz models we were told about went wrong, and the air-conditioning and bodywork were the only problematic areas. Disruption to owners was minimal, with all cars remaining driveable and fixed within a day. Although only a third of remedial work was done for free, the remaining two-thirds of repairs cost owners less than £50 each. 


  • Minor faults only
  • Swift action by dealers to fix cars
  • Only small repair bills


  • Slightly higher fault rate than latest model
  • Two-thirds of cars not fixed for free

=6. Honda Jazz (2020-present)

Red Honda Jazz front cornering

Reliability rating 98.4%

Although the current Honda Jazz doesn't score quite as highly as its predecessor, it's still a hugely dependable little hatchback. Only 7% of the cars reported on had any issues, and the most common complaints were with the battery and electrics, including the sat-nav/infotainment system. All cars were fixed for free, but 78% of them spent more than a week in the workshop. 


  • Honda covered the cost of all repair work
  • Faults not serious enough to keep cars off the road
  • Fault rate is lower than previous model


  • Slow to fix problems 
  • Sat-nav / infotainment system caused problems

=6. Hyundai i10 (2020-present)

Hyundai i10 front cornering

Reliability rating 98.4%

Bodywork and interior trim issues were the only areas that gave current-generation Hyundai i10 owners any headaches. Overall, only 10% of the models in our survey suffered a fault. The good news is that all problems were sorted out at no cost to owners. The not-so-good news is that half of the affected cars were out of action for more than a week. 


  • No bills for repair work
  • Minor faults didn't prevent cars from being driven
  • Nine out of 10 cars didn't go wrong


  • Some repairs took a long time
  • Owners reported bodywork and interior trim issues

8. Kia Picanto (2017-present)

Kia Picanto driving

Reliability rating 97.5%

Living with the latest Kia Picanto has generally been a great experience for owners, with only 10% of them telling us their cars had any problems. The main cause for concern was the gearbox/clutch, followed by the interior trim and sat-nav/infotainment system. While 60% of repairs were paid for by Kia, some owners paid out up to £300 to get their cars fixed. All cars could still be driven, though, and 60% of faults were fixed within a day, and the rest were resolved in less than a week. 


  • Nine out of 10 cars were problem-free
  • Kia paid for all cars to be fixed
  • All cars put right in less than a week


  • Some fairly high bills for owners
  • Gearbox /clutch problems affected some cars
  • Some repair bills up to £300

9. Dacia Sandero (2013-2020)

Dacia Sandero 2019 front left urban tracking

Reliability rating 96.8%

It's not such a rosy picture for 2013-2020 Dacia Sandero owners, who told us 20% of their cars had a glitch. The main gripes were with the engine and gearbox/clutch, and these faults rendered all affected cars undriveable. Dacia didn't cover the cost of any repairs, leaving owners with bills ranging from £501 to £1000, and all cars took more than a week to put right. 


  • Four out of five cars were fault-free


  • No cars fixed for free
  • All faulty cars rendered undriveable
  • Repair bills ranged from £501 to £1000

10. Mini hatchback (2014-present)

Mini hatchback 3dr

Reliability rating 96.7%

Although 13% of Mini hatchbacks went wrong, most issues were fairly minor and were quick and cheap to fix. Bodywork issues were the most common complaint, followed by problems with interior trim and the air-con system. Mini and its dealers paid for 83 % of remedial work, and none of the remaining bills topped £200. All cars could still be driven, and three-quarters were back on the road in less than seven days. 


  • Most cars fixed for free
  • Repairs were fairly speedy
  • Most issues were minor


  • Some owners had fairly high bills
  • A quarter of cars took more than a week to fix

Least reliable small cars 

=1. Audi A1 (2018-present)

Audi A1 2021 front cornering

Reliability rating 87.3%

What went wrong? Non-engine electrics 21%, bodywork 7%, sat-nav/infotainment 4%

A quarter of Audi A1 owners told us their cars had gone wrong, and the problems weren’t easy or cheap to fix. Although 50% of repairs were carried out for free, 25% of them cost between £201 and £500, and the other 25% exceeded £1500. Three-quarters of the faulty cars could still be driven, and a quarter were back on the road within a day, but the rest were stuck in the garage for more than a week.


  • Faults didn't stop cars from being driven
  • Audi covered the cost of 50% of repairs 
  • Most cars could still be driven


  • 25% of owners paid out up to £500
  • A quarter of cars cost more than £1500 to fix
  • Three-quarters of cars out of action for more than a week

=1. Seat Ibiza (2017-present)

Seat Ibiza 2022 front cornering

Reliability rating 87.3%

Faults with infotainment systems made up nearly half of the issues reported for the Seat Ibiza, with engine, electric and exhaust faults accounting for the rest. Overall, 32% of Ibizas went wrong, 47% of which were out of action for more than a week. Seat covered the cost of 87% of repairs, but 7% of owners paid between £301 and £500.


  • Majority of faulty cars remained driveable
  • A small proportion of cars were fixed in a day or less


  • Many reports of faulty infotainment systems
  • High percentage of cars stuck in the garage for more than seven days
  • Some owners paid up to £500 for repairs

3. Vauxhall Corsa (2014-2019)

Vauxhall Corsa

Reliability rating 91.2%

The previous-generation Vauxhall Corsa is fairly dependable, but it lands in the bottom three of what is a high-scoring class. Minor bodywork issues were the most common complaint among the 22% that went wrong, two-thirds being put right in a day or less. Repairs were free in 43% of cases, but 14% cost more than £1500.


  • Four out of five cars didn't have any faults
  • Swift repairs for two thirds of cars 
  • Many cars fixed for free


  • Some owners had bills exceeding £1500
  • Some reports of issues with suspension and steering 
  • 14% of cars in workshops for more than a week

4. Mazda 2 petrol (2015-present)

Mazda 2 2020 front cornering RHD

Reliability rating 92.7%

Slow and costly repairs were the main bugbears for the 19% of Mazda 2 owners whose cars went wrong. Of that group, 29% were stuck in garages for more than a week. Although 71% of cars were fixed for free, the remaining 29% of drivers were faced with bills of up to £300. Most issues were surrounding the bodywork, brakes and battery. 


  • Nearly three-quarters of cars fixed for free
  • Most issues were minor 


  • Nearly a third of cars in garage for more than a week
  • Some owners had to pay £300 for remedial work
  • Some reports of problems with gearbox/clutch

5. Fiat 500 (2008-present)

Reliability rating 93.2%

Fiat 500 2020 front tracking

Fiat’s smallest car, the Fiat 500, gave trouble for 33% of owners, with the most common fault areas being issues with the exhaust (14%), engine (5%) and infotainment (5%). Luckily, most of the affected cars could still be driven, but 11% were out of action for more than a week. And all owners were faced with bills ranging from £301 - £500.


  • Most cars could still be driven
  • Two-thirds of cars put right in a day or less


  • A third of cars went wrong
  • Faults in a range of areas
  • Fiat didn't pay for any repairs

6. Skoda Fabia (2015-2021)

Skoda Fabia

Reliability rating 94.3%

Non-engine electrical faults were the main problem areas with the Skoda Fabia. Overall, 21% of car owners reported a fault, and 5% of them were to do with the brakes, while other problem areas included the bodywork, gearbox/clutch and interior trim. The good news is that Skoda paid for most (64%) of the issues and most cars were still driveable. Not so good, is that the remaining 35% of owners faced bills ranging from £51 to £200.


  • Four out of five cars fault-free
  • Some problems were niggles with bodywork and trim 
  • Faults didn't stop most cars from being driven


  • 37% of cars out of action for more than a week
  • 10% of cars cost £200 to fix
  • Small proportion of gearbox/clutch issues

= 7. Volkswagen Polo petrol (2018-present)

Volkswagen Polo front - 19 plate

Reliability rating 94.9% 

The Volkswagen Polo doesn’t have the highest fault rate at 20%, but when things do go wrong, they can take some time to put right. According to owners, 30% of faulty cars took longer than a week to repair. The good news is that VW paid for 80% of repairs, and no one paid more than £500 to have their car fixed. Bodywork and non-engine electrics were the most common causes for concern.


  • Most cars fixed for free
  • Virtually all cars remained driveable  
  • 60% of problems resolved in a day or less


  • Some bills were up to £500
  • 30% of cars in workshop for more than seven days

=7. Ford Fiesta petrol (2017-present)

Used Ford Fiesta (17-present) long term test review

Reliability rating 94.9%

Lengthy stints in the workshop are the main complaint of Ford Fiesta owners, who told us that more than half of their faulty cars took more than a week to repair. Overall, 19% of Fiestas in our survey had a problem, the engine electrics, bodywork and exhaust were the most common problem areas. Although Ford paid for 80% of remedial work, 15% of owners had to fork out up to £200 for repairs. 


  • Relatively low fault rate
  • Ford paid for most repairs 
  • 35% of cars put right within a day


  • Some bills cost up to £200
  • 30% of cars out of action for more than a week
  • 20% of cars rendered undriveable by faults

9. Toyota Yaris (2011-2020)

Used Toyota Yaris hybrid front

Reliability rating 95.9%

Issues with the brakes and infotainment system were the only faults 2011-2020 Toyota Yaris owners told us about, and only 9% of the cars reported on were affected by these issues. All cars were fixed within a week, but all owners were faced with bills ranging from £101 - £500.


  • Faults didn't stop cars from being driven
  • Only 9% of cars went wrong 
  • All cars fixed in less than a week


  • Some bills were up to £500
  • No cars were fixed for free
  • Not as robust as Toyota Yaris Hybrid


To read the reliability data for other car classes follow these links:

All cars and SUVs here
Most reliable family cars
Most reliable executive cars
Most reliable luxury cars
Most reliable small SUVs
Most reliable family SUVs
Most reliable large SUVs
Most reliable seven-seaters
Most reliable electric cars
Most reliable electric SUVs
Most reliable sports cars
Most reliable car brands
Most reliable diesel cars

Reliability of small cars aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
1. Suzuki Swift (2017-present) 99.5%
2. 2011-2020 Toyota Yaris Hybrid 99.3%
=3. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (2020-present) 98.6%
=3. 2014-2020 Hyundai i10 98.6%
5. 2015-2020 Honda Jazz 98.5%
=6. Hyundai i10 (2020-present) 98.4%
=6. Honda Jazz (2020-present) 98.4%
8. Kia Picanto (2017-present) 97.5%
9. Dacia Sandero (2013-2020) 96.8%
10. Mini hatchback (2014-present) 96.7%
11. 2011-2020 Toyota Yaris petrol 95.9%
=12. Ford Fiesta (2017-present) 94.9%
=12. Volkswagen Polo (2018-present) 94.9%
14. 2015-2021 Skoda Fabia 94.3%
15. Fiat 500 (2008-present) 93.2%
16. Mazda 2 (2015-present) 92.7%
17. 2014-2019 Vauxhall Corsa 91.2%
=18. Seat Ibiza (2017-present) 87.3%
=18. Audi A1 (2018-present) 87.3%

About the report author

Claire Evans has been a motoring journalist for more than 30 years, working on consumer issues for a great deal of that time. After a stint as the advice columnist for Carweek magazine in the 1990s, she also spent six years working on motoring content for Which?. It is here she oversaw the running of the charity's annual used car reliability survey.

Claire launched the What Car? Reliability Survey in 2017, and since then has helped thousands of buyers choose the most reliable new cars and SUVs, as well as the most dependable used cars.

<< Previous | Next: Most and least reliable family cars >>