What Car? Personal Shopper: small and sporty car for £20,000

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New Volkswagen Up GTI vs Abarth 595

Buying new

  • Our recommended choice: Volkswagen Up GTI 5dr
  • List price: £14,930
  • Target Price: £14,296
New Suzuki Swift Sport vs Volkswagen Up GTI

Look past its boxy design and the Volkswagen Up GTI is one peppy pocket rocket. With a 113hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine under its bonnet, it can hit 62mph in 8.8sec yet also return reasonable fuel economy. It sounds pleasantly fruity, too, and can put a smile on your face whether you're travelling on sweeping country roads or darting in and out of city traffic.

Inside, you'll find a retro-inspired interior complete with tartan seats reminiscent of those in the original Golf GTI hot hatch from 1975.

Don't go thinking that the Up GTI isn't a practical choice, either, because despite being a city car, it has enough space for four people plus a reasonable amount of luggage. And it comes loaded with goodies, including sports seats and everything the already lavish High Up model comes with, including a 5.0in infotainment screen, heated front seats and 15in alloy wheels. Just add city automatic emergency braking from the options list – which will still leave you with a decent chunk of change from your budget – and you're good to go.

Find a great Volkswagen Up GTI deal or read our full review

  • Also consider: Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge 3dr
  • List price: £13,765
  • Target Price: £13,122
Fiat 500 2018 front urban static shot

Why change something that isn't broken? You're already used to a Fiat 500, and the latest version is an even better proposition for driving around town. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is perky enough and loves to be revved, while Lounge models come with climate control, a 5.0in touchscreen infotainment system and rear parking sensors. There's plenty of scope to personalise your car in and out, including adding coloured plastic inserts to the dashboard.

Find a great Fiat 500 deal or read our full review

  • Also consider: Audi A1 Sportback 30 TFSI Sport
  • List price: £20,045
  • Target Price: £19,374
Audi A1 driving

Available in a range of bold colours and sporting a premium badge on its bonnet, the latest Audi A1 Sportback is a top-notch small hatchback. We like its smooth ride, tidy handling and impressively well built interior. Sport models come with everything you're likely to need, while the 114bhp 1.0-litre engine you get here is our recommended choice.