Best small luxury cars 2024

You've heard people say things like ‘good things come in small packages’ and ‘small is beautiful’. More often than not, it's to make you feel better, but when it comes to luxury cars, small can be a good thing.

Sure, a small luxury car is unlikely to cut it if you're after something to whisk a celeb to a red carpet event, or meet a high-flying businessperson at their private jet, but consider the positives. These cars will be more affordable to buy, cheaper to run and easier to park. Squeezing into a parking bay is tough when your car is longer than the Queen Mary. That's the retired ocean liner, not Mary of Teck.

Granted, these royally good small cars don't offer the acres of legroom you'll find in a limo, but think of the money you'll save by going small. You can spend it on luxury hotel rooms and the finest bottles of bubbly.

Here are some of the best small luxury cars you can buy right now.

 Best small luxury cars



Peugeot 208

The interior of the Peugeot 208 is rather good in any form, with a standout modern design, great quality and some natty looking tech. But in top-spec GT trim it’s even classier, with faux leather and cloth upholstery with green stitching, a full-grain perforated leather steering wheel and eight-colour ambient lighting to really set the mood. Outside, you get a gloss black roof and wheel arch extensions and two-tone, diamond cut alloy wheels with full LED headlights – something that would have been reserved for more expensive cars just a few years ago.

Read our full Peugeot 208 review

Audi A1 Sportback

You know what they say about buying the cheapest house on the most expensive estate? You can use that analogy to justify an A1 Sportback, because it offers many benefits of the more expensive cars in Audi’s range. These include the right badge, the right image and higher build quality than its immediate rivals. Even the entry-level Sport trim feels upmarket, but the true luxury comes with the Black Edition model. Highlights here include Audi’s Virtual Cockpit driver display, 18-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara and leatherette heated seats, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control and ambient lighting.

Read our full Audi A1 Sportback review

MINI Electric

Other electric hatchbacks do a better job on range and interior space than the MINI Electric, but it makes sense if you're after a little runabout. For image-conscious EVs buyers, only the Honda e can rivals its blend of style, sophistication and kerb appeal. If you like the outside, you'll love the inside, which looks stylish and feels very upmarket. We suspect the 145 miles of range will be more than enough if you spend most of your time in the city.

Read our full MINI Electric review

Lexus UX

Following the demise of the CT hatchback, the UX is the smallest Lexus you can buy. It’s also the only Lexus to slip below the £35,000 mark, but only just. Bold styling, a high-quality interior and a smooth hybrid powertrain are three of its strongest points, plus you get a generous level of standard equipment. Opt for plush Takumi trim for front and rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated and ventilated leather seats, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, a head-up display and an impressive 13-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system. The UX is also available with an all-electric powertrain.

Read our full Lexus UX review

Volvo XC40

There are plenty of compact SUVs to choose from, but few are as special as the Volvo XC40. It feels a class above its mainstream rivals and refreshingly different to the premium players from Germany. The styling is chunky and upmarket, the interior oozes Scandinavian chic, and the car’s safety credentials are second to none. Overall, the XC40 feels like it rolled straight out of the ‘class whispers and doesn’t shout’ school of luxury, and is all the better for it. The pure electric XC40 Recharge model feels even more opulent and offers up to 333 miles of near-silent electric range.

Read our full Volvo XC40 review

DS 3

DS has been pushing further upmarket ever since it separated from the Citroen brand. The DS 3 is the smallest car in the stable and one of the most distinctive cars in its class. The level of perceived luxury is extremely high, with DS making good use of plush materials and lavish finishes. Actual quality isn’t as high as its premium rivals, sadly, but few cars of this size offer the same feelgood factor. Neat details include the intricate design of the headlights, a genuinely distinctive dashboard and door handles that open for you.

Read our full DS 3 review

Mercedes A-Class

Other premium hatchbacks are available, but the Mercedes A-Class is the classiest of the lot. Even the entry-level Sport Edition trim comes with a pair of 10.25-inch screens, which combine to create a seamless dashboard display that is a match for the larger and more expensive models in the Mercedes-Benz range. Upgrade to the Sport Executive trim for a choice of 64 (yes, 64) different ambient interior lighting options, which add some colour to this small luxury car. For some extra horsepower with your luxury car, consider upgrading to one of the feisty Mercedes-AMG models.

Read our full Mercedes A-Class review

Honda e

Honda’s little all-electric city car is very small, but packed with style and presence. It looks like nothing else on the road, and the interior is achingly modern, with an infotainment screen that stretches the whole width of the cabin. It’s not cheap, and it doesn’t have the longest battery range, but if you want to tour the city in top-quality style and comfort, then there aren’t many better options.

Read our full Honda e review

Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate

Don’t be fooled by the badge, because the Vauxhall Corsa features the kind of kit you’d associate with a larger and more expensive car. Take the Ultimate trim, which includes everything you get on the GS Edition, plus LED matrix headlights, LED rear lights, heated front seats with a massage function, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry and start. It’s worth noting that the GS Edition already boasts a 10-inch touchscreen display, rear-view camera, 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, climate control, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and, well, the list goes on...

Read our full Vauxhall Corsa review

Fiat 500 La Prima

Fiat’s latest version of the 500 is powered by a serene all-electric powertrain, and in top-spec form it’s quite the prestigious ride. The 500 La Prima is a chunk more expensive than the rest of the range, but it’s loaded with extras, including heated seats, a rear parking camera and 360-degree parking sensors, a premium JBL sound system and leather seats, as well as adaptive cruise control and a panoramic sunroof. It’s as swanky and stylish as small Italian cars get, and that’s pretty darn swanky.

Read our full Fiat 500 Electric review

What’s the difference between a premium car and luxury car?

You can draw a fuzzy line between the worlds of premium and luxury cars. The premium car market is dominated by brands like Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Volvo, while luxury brands include Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce. The quality, craftsmanship and choice of materials pushes a car into luxury territory, but that’s not to say a premium car cannot be considered luxurious. Indeed, the Mercedes S-Class is a luxury car from a premium brand.

Can a small car be genuinely luxurious?

Leather seats, plush materials, expensive alloy wheels and the latest tech are great, but small cars lack the space, ride comfort and aura of a genuine luxury car. A short wheelbase prevents a small car from benefiting from the ride comfort of a luxury saloon or SUV, while the shortage of headroom and rear legroom prevents them from being a genuine player. Still, a little touch of class never did anyone any harm.

What’s the most famous small luxury car?

There are plenty of examples of coachbuilt small luxury cars of the past. Wood & Pickett worked wonders with the original Mini and we should also tip our hats to the Vanden Plas version of the Austin Allegro. More recently, Aston Martin created the Cygnet using a humble Toyota iQ city car. Highlights included a glass-like paint finish, hand-finished interior and bespoke alloy wheels. It cost £30,000 when new, but some used examples fetch significantly more than that, due to its rarity and curiosity.

Ask HJ

Can you suggest a small, premium hybrid?

I drive a 4-year-old Mercedes C-Class - which I love. But even before lockdown, I thought it was time to get a smaller car and venture into the world of hybrids. I'm looking for a high-spec, small, self-charging hybrid - either a hatchback or small SUV. I do mostly local journeys but some longer ones so I don’t want to go fully electric yet. On the Mercedes, I'm used to a high spec and lots of gizmos so I am looking for the most luxurious small car - this time with 5 doors, that is easy to park. I realise performance will not be as good as I'm used to but would like to get the best I can. My car is my luxury item in life so cost is not a big issue. I would be very grateful for your recommendations.
We'd recommend a Lexus UX 250h. It's a small hybrid crossover SUV with a premium cabin. Lexus is Toyota's premium brand and owners are generally a very satisfied bunch: You could also consider the CT 200h hatchback although it's been around for a number of years and is showing its age a bit now. Alternatively, look at a Toyota C-HR or the excellent new Yaris – they won't feel as classy as your Mercedes, but they're very dependable and efficient cars.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions