What alternatives should I consider to a used Renault Clio hatchback?
If the Clio is a touch too tame in the handling department, consider a Ford Fiesta. It has a smaller boot and isn't as spacious in the back, but it is one of the most engaging small cars to drive and some updates in 2020 introduced some very efficient mild-hybrid engine options.
For unsurpassed comfort without having to resort to the expense of an Audi A1, try a Volkswagen Polo. Ride comfort is hugely impressive for a car in this class, plus all the controls have that extra layer of slickness to justify the additional expense of the Polo.
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