Jacked up small superminis seem to be all the rage among buyers at the moment, so which compact crossover takes the throne in our top ten?
28 January 2018

The SUV is here to stay, and the compact crossover segment is the fastest-growing sub-species, with almost every manufacturer either competing in the class, or planning to.

On the whole, it's not a dynamically gifted class, with top complaints about iffy rides and stodgy handling stemming from the rufty-tufty raised hatchbacks' higher suspension and centres of gravity. But here we have the ten best compact crossovers money can buy.

1. Seat Arona

Top of the pack in the burgeoning crossover segment is an accolade, but a staid interior and bland handling underpin a roomy supermini-SUV with admirable refinement.

As the segment leader it hushes the flaws of its competitors enough to sit atop the pack, but entrants keep coming thick and fast, so there's plenty of competition to fend off. In a class pitched for style and perceived practicality, the Seat Arona does it better than all others, with slightly higher pricing than the class average offset by top-notch infotainment and solidity.

Our Verdict

Seat Arona

Seat is on a roll but can the Arona, its new junior SUV, cut it in such an ultra-competitive class?

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2. Renault Captur

It's the best-selling supermini-SUV in Europe, although dynamically doesn't match up to Renaults past. Being based on the Clio is a good starting point, though, and the Captur has usurped its supermini sister's success, even if it's considerably worse over bumpy roads - a segment hallmark.

As with the Seat Arona, it packs style with funky two-tone paint options, with the interior versatility of an MPV. Style-wise, it's far more supermini than rugged off-roader. Price-wise, it's bang in the middle of the segment.

3. Mazda CX-3

Mazda's supermini-SUV is one of the best-handling out there, but it's got a tiny boot and a high price compared with more practically-oriented competitors. It's good looking, too, with a handsome exterior and well-appointed interior.

Diesels aren't nearly as good as petrols, even though they're punchy and frugal. It's a hard sell when considering four-figure savings on similar, and better, rivals. 

4. Audi Q2

Audi throws its cap into the crossover ring far more convincinngly with the Q2 than Mercedes-Benz or BMW did with the GLA and X1. Don't expect off-road prowess (as with many in this top ten), but you won't be disappointed with its plush interior and abundant style.

Mini's Countryman might beat it on fashion appeal, but it's a far less polished package than Audi's jacked-up hatch. Far pricier than the usual supermini-SUV suspects, but cheaper than key premium rivals.

5. Citroën C3 Aircross

The C3 Aircross replaces the C3 Picasso in the Citroën range, as SUVs pulverise the MPV segment in Europe.

The Aircross is one of the cheapest on the market, as well as one of the most comfortable, with a typically-Citroën level of quirk on the interior, despite the lack of quality feel. It's a pity that the handling is quite so bland, but practicality is on par with rivals, and its style sets it apart from rivals in this image-conscious class. 

6. Nissan Juke

The one that set the B-SUV segment alight, Nissan's genre-defining Juke is a little long in the tooth now. That aside, it's decent value and drives as good as its concept-like looks suggest.

A price point near the bottom of the pack is helping to continuously shift huge numbers, despite the cramped rear and plasticky interior suggesting it's more style over substance. Still the daddy when it comes to sales volume in the UK, though. 

7. Suzuki Vitara

A genuine off-roader in a segment of road-biased SUV-lites, the Vitara is a little more rough and ready than many, but will out-drive almost all when confronted with a large, muddy vista. It's nimbler than it looks, better appointed on the interior than it feels, and handles more neatly than you'd expect.

Rival-undercutting prices make it a tempting buy, although it's not quite as practical as other names in this list. Sharpen the steering and improve the interior and it'll leap into the top three.

8. Dacia Duster

In short, the cheapest small SUV you can buy. In full - a fiercely capable off-roader, spacious and frugal family car, albeit with dynamic shortcomings and a crash safety rating a rung or two below competitors.

Sure, the diesel is more expensive than the entry-level petrol, and it's a noisy old thing at that, but for the money, only secondhand comes close. It's in a class all of its own.

9. Kia Stonic

Kia's Stonic is one of the sharper-driving cars in this segment, and is another designed along the raised hatchback line. It's got a bit of a frumpy interior, but is priced in the middle of the lot.

Sales are heavily biased towards the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, but it's the most refined and punchy anyway. It's not the dynamic standout that the Mazda CX-3 is, but it's a whole lot cheaper, and one of the newest small SUVs on the block. 

10. Hyundai Kona

Hyundai’s in on the game too, with the all-new Kona being its riposte to the Nissan Juke. The quirky exterior gives way to a bit of a dull, all-black interior, and the driving experience isn’t all that colourful, either.

It’s practical, though, and it rides well. Being on the more expensive end of the market reflects Hyundai’s ambition to push upmarket and grow. 

Our Verdict

Seat Arona

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