By Mark Nichol
Small SUVs are one of the most popular types of cars on UK roads in 2023. Not too long ago you’d expect a small car to be quite compromised - something you used just to get from A to B as cheaply as possible. If it felt high quality or was relatively spacious, those traits were exceptional rather than the norm.
But now, thanks to the trend for making small cars look and feel like SUVs, there’s a whole new group of them that offer spaciousness and flexibility, along with comfortable ‘big car’ ergonomics and interior quality to match. And all that while still being easy to park, economical, and quite often genuinely good fun to drive.
Here are our favourite small SUVs available to lease right now. But if you need a bit more space, check out our guides to the best family SUVs.
Top 10 Best Small SUVs
- SEAT Arona
- Toyota Aygo-X
- Kia Niro
- Audi Q2
- Citroen C3 Aircross
- Dacia Duster
- Nissan Juke
- Volkswagen T-Cross
- Skoda Kamiq
- Ford Puma
The Arona offers all the style and Spanish pizazz of the SEAT Ibiza, but with a taller body so it feels a lot more spacious. But because SEAT is part of the Volkswagen Group, you also get build quality and fantastic driver ergonomics associated with VW. A win-win recipe. The Arona is fun to drive, really comfortable, cheap to run, and therefore probably the best value Volkswagen Group small SUV on sale. View the latest SEAT Arona lease deals.
The Toyota Aygo X is a wonderful small car. By taking the Aygo city car, raising it a little and adding SUV-style design tweaks, Toyota has made something that feels completely new - and much more practical. The taller view out is perfect for parking, it feels both spacious and built to last inside, and the 1.0-litre engine has real character, while offering 56mpg. The Aygo X is well worth a try if you're after a compact-but-tall runabout.
View the latest Toyota Aygo X lease deals.
Kia is getting bolder and bolder with its designs, typified by the Niro, which you could argue is the most striking-looking small crossover on sale today. A world away from where Kia was not too long ago, the Niro not only has a daring exterior, but it has a high-quality and spacious cabin. There’s loads of choice too, because it comes as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and even a fully electric version.
View the latest Kia Niro lease deals.
The Audi Q2 is the only ‘premium’ small SUV on this list; neither BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus or Volvo make an SUV as compact as the Audi Q2. It’s hardly tiny, though, and is still capable of carrying a family of four with ease, and with a decent sized boot. And, as you might expect, the Q2 has the best build quality on this list. It follows that it’s not the cheapest to lease, but it feels value for money because of its prestige, and the fact that all the available engines are very economical. View the latest Audi Q2 lease deals.
Citroen C3 Aircross
Striking styling and a characterful, spacious interior are just two of the many strengths of the C3 Aircross. Its real USP is its unsurpassed comfort, though. Citroen has fitted it with incredibly soft and supple suspension, which means this small SUV glides across the worst road surfaces with real smoothness. The front and rear seats themselves are ergonomically designed for maximum comfort too - they’re flat and squishy. All in all, a small SUV with a ‘big car’ feel and one that’s very easy to recommend.
View the latest Citroen C3 Aircross lease deals.
Because Dacia is a value brand, the Duster is closer in size to a larger family SUV, but with leasing and running costs more like a small car. Its pleasant, spacious cabin, huge boot space and smooth engines make it a lovely thing to travel in. The Duster is at its best in more modest specifications, where its value-for-money is outstanding, although if you choose a 4x4 model it has genuinely impressive off-road capabilities.
View the latest Dacia Duster lease deals.
View the latest Nissan Juke lease deals.
It’s hard to fault the Volkswagen T-Cross in any way. It packs loads of cabin space into a small footprint, it has a driving position that all shapes and sizes of person will get along with, and it even looks pretty interesting – assuming you’re careful with your colour selection. A brilliant array of small turbo petrol engines makes it both fun to drive and economical, and its touchscreen infotainment is second-to-none in the class. View the latest Volkswagen T-Cross lease deals.
The Skoda Kamiq is on the larger side of the small SUV class, but that makes it one of the most practical and fantastic value. It still has all the good qualities of a small SUV, as in, it’s really easy to park and manoeuvre, and the engines are all very economical. The Kamiq is really well packaged, with a large and flexible boot space, plenty of in-cabin storage, and just about enough interior space to work as a main family car for four. (It actually seats five, though.) Cracking stuff from Skoda, as usual.
View the latest Skoda Kamiq lease deals.
The Ford Puma is probably the best small crossover money can lease, which is why it was the best-selling car of its type in the UK in 2022. It’s a small SUV that’s genuinely great fun to drive - not a quality you’d normally associate with this type of high-riding car. It’s well-equipped (even from the base model), nice to look at and it’s practical - and the only small SUV with an actual bath in the boot. True story. There’s a waterproof box under the boot floor, complete with a drainage plug, so you can put your dirty wellies in there without soiling the car. Nice.
Best Small SUV FAQs:
Why Lease A Small SUV? You get all the benefits of a larger SUV model – such as a raised driving/seating position, easier entry and exit to the passenger compartment, more space inside and a bigger boot – yet with the compact exterior dimensions and ease-of-use of a small car, as well as good fuel economy and affordable running costs. This is why small SUVs are so popular in the UK, because they offer the best of both worlds, hence why they’re often referred to as ‘crossovers’.
What is the most reliable small SUV? Every car on our list should provide hassle-free motoring, but if you want an extra layer of protection for general peace of mind, the Toyota Aygo X is the one to go for. Toyota is known for making incredibly reliable cars, and the Aygo X is also mechanically quite simple so there’s not much on it that can go wrong anyway.
Leasing means you get a brand new car, covered by a manufacturer warranty for all or most of the duration of your lease deal, depending on how many months you spread the costs over.
What is the most affordable small SUV? The Nissan Juke and SEAT Arona are the small SUVs with the most affordable monthly leasing costs through Vanarama, as at the time of writing. Both of them are relatively cheap to insure too, and come with efficient petrol engines that won’t use too much fuel.
What is the most popular small SUV in the UK? According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the most popular small SUV in 2022 in the UK was the Ford Puma, selling 35,088 units in the year. That was enough to place it fourth on the overall list of all cars, behind the Tesla Model Y (in third, 35,551 units), the Vauxhall Corsa (in second, 35,910 units) and the Nissan Qashqai (in first, with 42,704 units) – the last of these being a midsize SUV, showing the British public’s preference for this type of car.
Which small SUV has the most interior space? The Dacia Duster is clever, in that it is priced alongside small SUVs in terms of leasing costs, but it feels like a larger one. There’s loads of room in the second row for adult passengers and taller children, which makes the Duster a really usable yet affordable family runaround.
Which small SUV has the biggest boot? The award here again goes to the Dacia Duster, which has a 478-litre boot with all seats in use. Anything with more than 400 litres of boot space is good, so the vehicles like the Skoda Kamiq (400 litres), Nissan Juke (422 litres), Volkswagen T-Cross (455 litres) and Ford Puma (456 litres) are all worth checking out.
Find out more about how car leasing works or why lease vs buy a car in our easy-to-understand leasing guides. Or if you're ready to browse for your next we've got a huge range of car leasing offers at unbeatable prices.