The most (and least) reliable small cars
Small cars are often bought for new drivers, so buyers could struggle to afford costly repairs. Our latest Reliability Survey reveals the most and least dependable models...
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 nearly 13,000 people to tell us what had gone wrong with their cars during the previous year, and how much they had to pay to get each problem put right and how long the car was out of action. We used this data to give each model a unique reliability rating; those with the most expensive faults and that had spent the longest in the garage gain the lowest scores, while those that never put a foot wrong got the highest scores.
Here's our round-up of the best and worst small cars aged up to five years old.
The top 10 most reliable small cars
10. Skoda Fabia (2015-present)
Reliability rating 97.6%
Only 12% of Fabias suffered a fault, with the engine and interior trim the two most common problem areas. There were also a small percentage of issues reported with the aircon, battery, brakes, engine and non-engine electrics and the gearbox/clutch.
The good news is that all cars could still be driven and all were fixed in less than a week - half were put right in a day or less. Owners told us that 70% of work was done for free and no repair bills topped £300.
9. Toyota Yaris (2011-2020)
Reliability rating 98.7%
Just 14% Yaris owners reported a problem with their car, and 7% of those faults related to the suspension system. There were also a small number of issues with the bodywork, gearbox/clutch and steering.
More than half of the cars we were told about were put right the same day, and none were rendered undriveable. With many of the cars reported on out of warranty, it's no surprise that only 17% were fixed for free; that said, nobody paid out more than £500 to get their Yaris repaired.
8. Hyundai i10 (2014-2020)
Reliability rating 98.8%
A mere 9% of i10s suffered a problem, with the gearbox/clutch and non-engine electrics the main concerns. Some owners also had issues with bodywork. All cars were rectified the same day and all work was done under warranty.
7. Honda Jazz (2015-2020)
Reliability rating 99.0%
Just 6% of owners told us their Jazz had gone wrong in the previous 12 months. The main bugbear was the braking system, followed by the battery, bodywork, gearbox/clutch and non-engine electrics.
Although all cars could still be driven two thirds spent more than a week in the garage. While 50% of work was done for free, the other owners paid out between £101 and £500 for each repair.
6. Dacia Duster (2018-present)
Reliability rating 99.1%
Although 8% of Dusters went wrong according to owners, many of the problems were minor. Three areas were affected: bodywork, the engine and non-engine electrics.
All cars could still be driven and all were repaired the same day with all work carried out under warranty.
=4. Hyundai i20 (2015-present)
Reliability rating 99.3%
Niggles with engine and non-electrics were the only issue for i20 owners; problems affected just 7% of cars. Although all cars remained driveable, half took more than a week to put right; all work was done for free, though.
=4. Suzuki Swift (2017-present)
Reliability rating 99.3%
Just 6% of Swift owners reported a fault on their car and the only area involved was the bodywork. All cars could still be driven and all were repaired in a day or less at no cost to the owners.
3. Volkswagen Up (2012-present)
Reliability rating 99.4%
The Up is one of a trio of city cars built by the Volkswagen Group. It's not quite as bulletproof as its brother, the Skoda Citigo, but just 3% of cars suffered a fault. The only area that proved troublesome was engine electrics. Although all affected cars were off the road for more than a week, all were fixed for free under warranty.
Reliability rating 100%
What went wrong? Nothing
Skoda’s sister to the Volkswagen Up is not only slick to drive and great value but also remarkably durable in its original petrol form (it’s now electric only). Even though the earlier examples dating back to 2015 will now be out of warranty, not one owner reported a fault with their car.
Owner’s view “This car is a little gem. It has been utterly dependable over the past year”
=1. Toyota Aygo (2014-present)
Reliability rating 96.9%
What went wrong? Nothing
Very popular among owners, the Aygo shouldn’t leave you stranded at the roadside. Not a single one of the cars we were told about suffered a problem; it’s no wonder that more than three-quarters of people cited reliability as the thing they liked best about their car.
Owner’s view “It’s the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. I’ve been so impressed with it that I would consider buying another one"
Page 1 of 2
Best small cars 2021
More people buy small hatchbacks than any other type of car, so here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the model to avoid
Honda Jazz long-term test review
The latest Honda Jazz's practicality and efficiency impressed us in a group test – now our deputy editor is finding out what it's like to drive one every day