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Best small car for motorway driving 2024

Long distance driving can be comfortable in a small car if you pick the right one. Take a look at our best cars for motorway driving

Ford Fiesta blue

Are small cars good for motorway driving?

For many UK motorists, 70mph roads like the M1 are vital driving routes that link up key destinations in the quickest and most efficient way.

When they work, motorways work brilliantly – although some cars are definitely better configured to take full advantage of them than others.

Handily for the 21st-century motorist, however, most modern cars can handle motorway duties without breaking a sweat – and that includes small cars.

To celebrate the vast supply of motorway-worthy small cars out there, we've picked out 10 top performers from the segment that are especially handy on the nation's 70mph roads.

Take a look at the best small cars for motorway driving:

Hyundai i30

a dark blue hyundai i30 driving on a road

The fact the Hyundai i30 comes with a five-year warranty from the factory should tell you all you need to know about its reliability – and most used ones should have a good proportion of this left.

For motorway driving, the 1.6-litre diesel engine is particularly appealing as it should comfortably return up to 65mpg.

All versions of Hyundai's VW Golf rival are brilliantly capable, however, and come with plenty of driving tech like cruise control and lane keep assist.

The i30 really does punch above its class weight.

Citroen C3

A baby blue Citroen C3 Aircross parked in a cobbled city

If you’d like to combine some solid motorway practicality with more than a little French 'je ne sais quoi', the used Citroen C3 should be high up on your shopping list.

It doesn’t just look distinctive, it’s also a great small car to drive on motorways, as well as being nippy around town.

Citroen also equips its smaller models with more mod-cons than you'd expect, with well-equipped variants getting cruise control and climate control to keep you comfy – especially on those longer drives.

Peugeot 308

a green peugeot 308 driving on a road

Here’s another French car that ticks all the boxes when it comes to motorway driving.

Not only has the 308 achieved a five-star safety rating in Euro NCAP tests, but it also feels like a good, solid car when you’re behind the wheel.

The Blue HDi diesel engines deliver remarkable economy and plenty of torque in the higher gears, so you can make those miles in fewer gallons.

Peugeot has also pulled out all the stops when it comes to the interior to make it easy to use, with a clutter-free dashboard and quality materials throughout.

Renault Megane

a red renault megane driving on a road

The Renault Megane has always been a decent motorway cruiser, but the fourth-generation model is the most mature one yet.

It rides comfortably at pace, comes with a range of efficient engines offering up to 70mpg, and – no less importantly – it looks absolutely brilliant.

Best of all, Renault fits its cars with a generous supply of driver assist and safety technology to take the stress out of any type of driving – especially higher-speed driving.


a dark blue seat leon driving on a road

The SEAT Leon has proved to be the make’s most successful car yet in the UK with more than a quarter of a million examples sold here.

If you’re looking for the sorts of safety features that are important for motorway driving, you’ll find plenty in this used SEAT.

The latest models to enter the used car market include an adaptive cruise control system that uses satellite and GPS data to automatically set a safe speed for the car to travel.

A nice touch to help you on those long, straight motorways.

Ford Fiesta

A red Ford Fiesta ST

The Ford Fiesta has evolved over eight generations from a compact city car into a supermini capable of nearly everything you can throw at it. In fact, it's one of the best cars for city and motorway driving.

The current car's Sync3 infotainment system is one of the best ones you'll find in a small car, while well-specced models get powerful sound systems and decent noise insulation.

This used Ford model's main party piece is its handling and accompanying punchy performance.

Its 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine will give you more than 50mpg on a run, which is quite a feat for a small petrol engine.

Skoda Fabia

a phoenix orange skoda fabia driving on a road

Space may be the final frontier, but it’s also a big selling point of the Skoda Fabia.

If your motorway journeys involve transporting sizeable passengers and lots of luggage, this used Skoda is a perfect choice.

Although compact from the outside, there’s plenty of space and headroom both in the front and the back, and the boot is class-leading.

All the engines post-2018 are 1.0-litre petrols, and while all are strong, we'd recommend the 115hp version for motorway driving.

Volkswagen Golf

a yellow/gold volkswagen golf mk8 driving on a road

The Golf has always been the small car against which all others are judged.

After all, it virtually invented the category eight generations ago, arriving as the first hatchback that could do big car things.

All the expected technological features are present and correct in all Golfs, from economical fuel consumption to great handling and quality construction.

But VW has also gone the extra mile on safety equipment with adaptive cruise control and 'turn-off-assist' that can sense an impending impact and apply the brakes automatically.

Plus, there are plenty of used VW models to choose from if you want to save some cash. It's one of the best hatchbacks for motorway driving.

Mercedes A-Class

a red mercedes a-class driving on a road

The A-Class is the baby in the Mercedes line-up. Put it on a motorway, however, and you’ll find it shares many of the winning attributes as its bigger siblings.

It’s also absolutely packed with safety systems including automatic lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot assist to let you know if another vehicle has crept up on you without you noticing.

If you go for a higher-grade version, the A-Class feels truly premium.

Kia Ceed

a blue kia proceed gt driving on a country road

We started on a long-warranty car in the Hyundai i30, so let’s end on one with an even longer one.

With a seven-year warranty – or 100,000 miles (that would cover you for more than 500 trips along the M1) – you can be confident the Kia Ceed is a quality car that shouldn’t let you down, and even if it does, Kia will sort it for free.

The 1.0-litre petrol engine should be powerful enough for most and deliver 50mpg – so fewer fill-ups at service stations’ exorbitant fuel prices. Sounds like a winner to us. It's a top pick for the best small car for motorway driving.

What makes a small car good for motorway driving?

If you're looking for a small hatchback car that's ideal for motorway driving, there are a few things to consider.

Possibly one of the most important is the comfort in the cabin. If you're driving a long distance, you don't want to be cramped up. Features like heated steering wheels and seats, plus a handy infotainment set-up can be a nice touch on a long trek.

You might also want to consider fuel efficiency so it doesn't break the bank to get on the road. A mild-hybrid system can help you save fuel and cut costs, and diesels are always great for motorway trips.

Driving aids like cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot assist are also worth hunting for. These take the edge off during long drives and improve road safety.

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