Best Small Luxury Cars

In the world of luxury cars, size matters. Large cars command big prices, with space in the back for terribly important CEOs to stretch their legs while they sip champagne from a flute. Names like Bentley, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce rule the roost.

But as our list of small luxury cars reveals, it’s possible to live the high life in something smaller. Footrests, champagne coolers, massaging seats and air suspension might be off the menu, but these cars will deliver a little taste of luxury.

We’ve included everything from a chic crossover to a chunky compact SUV, along with a couple of unexpected treats from Ford and Vauxhall. In many cases, you’ll need to opt for the top trim level, which should include niceties such as heated leather seats, a premium sound system and stylish alloy wheels.

Employ a chauffeur, then take a seat in the back to live the luxury car dream.

DS 3 Crossback

In many ways, the DS 3 Crossback feels more like an art studio or a fashion boutique than it does a car. It all starts on the outside, where you’re greeted with flush fitting door handles, which are deployed either via the key or, if paired with proximity keyless entry, automatically when approaching the vehicle. The good vibes continue on the inside, where you’ll find air vents shaped like diamonds and a 7.0-inch touchscreen display. Top trim levels feel even more luxurious, especially those with jewel-like LED headlights, diamond-cut alloy wheels, a 10-inch touchscreen and Nappa leather with a watch-strap design.

Ford Fiesta Titanium Vignale

The Ford Fiesta comes with a long list of equipment as standard, but the Titanium Vignale trim takes things to a new level. The front grille has the look of an Aston Martin, while the 17-inch alloy wheels with pearl grey machined finish give the Fiesta an upmarket appearance. On the inside, the specification includes artificial leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, a heated windscreen, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, automatic climate control and a rear-view camera. The alternative Active Vignale trim features selectable driving modes, rugged body styling, rough road suspension and increased ride height.

BMW 1 Series

The 1 Series is the smallest car in the range, so you get the quality and badge appeal of a larger BMW, but in a more compact and less expensive package. The interior is particularly impressive, with a high-quality feel throughout and a long list of standard equipment, even on the entry-level SE model. Most buyers will opt for the M Sport trim, which features the likes of a 10.25-inch infotainment system, Dakota leather upholstery, heated seats and a cosmetic makeover. A number of options are available, including the Comfort Pack, which adds keyless entry, an electric tailgate, electric front seats and a heated steering wheel.

 

Lexus UX

The Lexus UX isn’t as ‘shouty’ as some of its premium compact SUV rivals. It’s too classy and understated for that. Sticking with the subject of noise, it also boasts one of the quietest interiors in its class, especially if you opt for the all-electric UX 300e. Lexus has tweaked the aerodynamics to reduce the amount of wind noise. It’s this attention to detail that matters when you’re choosing a premium car. The boot is a little small and the rear legroom is a bit tight, but fit and finish are extremely good. All models come with a generous level of equipment, but the F Sport and Takumi trims feel positively opulent.

Audi A1 Sportback

We’re not going to pretend that the A1 Sportback feels as plush and luxurious as an Audi A8 or Q7, but it feels a class above its supermini rivals. It’s got the all-important Audi badge on the front grille, and while the interior doesn’t have the same high-quality feel as a more expensive Audi, it looks upmarket and you get a long list of standard equipment. Even the £21,000 Technik model features LED headlights, LED rear lights with dynamic indicators, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a 8.8-inch colour display screen and leather multi-function steering wheel.

Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate

Ultimate by name, ultimate by nature. This is the flagship of the Vauxhall Corsa range, yet it costs just £23,500. The spec list is so long, we can only bring you the highlights. Brace yourself… LED matrix headlights, high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic rear-view camera, a 10-inch colour touchscreen, electronic climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated seats finished in Alcantara, keyless entry and start, diamond-cut alloy wheels, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers and a suite of driver assistance systems. For around £6,000, you can upgrade to the all-electric Corsa-e Ultimate.

Volvo XC40

Volvo’s smallest vehicle just happens to be one of its most appealing. The XC40 is one of a large number of premium compact SUVs you can buy, but its chunky looks and strong safety credentials make it stand out in a crowded market. The interior design is borrowed from the larger XC60 and XC90 models, so fit and finish are excellent, while the uncluttered approach is both calming and refreshing. Even the entry-level Start trim boasts an enviable list of equipment, but the XC40 is at its most lavish in Ultimate guise. As a bonus, the seats in the XC40 are incredibly comfortable.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the most luxurious family hatchback you can buy. No other car of this size boasts the same level of fit, finish and technology as the A-Class, which is available as a hatchback or saloon. All versions except the Sport get an impressive 10.25-inch digital screen, while the AMG Line Premium Edition and AMG Line Premium Plus Edition also boast a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel to create a seamless display across the dashboard. Top trim levels also feature64-colour ambient interior lighting and the sort of equipment you’d associate with a much larger car.

Hyundai i10 Premium

Luxury city cars are hard to come by. We’re not suggesting that the Hyundai i20 feels like a luxury car – the interior plastics are too scratchy for that – but the specification on the Premium trim is extremely generous. Highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, climate control, rear privacy glass, arear-view camera, heated steering wheel, an 8.0-inch infotainment system and Bluetooth with voice recognition. Not bad for a car that costs £15,500 with the entry-level engine and is covered by a five-year unlimited mileage warranty. An optional Tech Pack adds navigation, wireless phone charging and a speed limit warning system.

MINI 5-door Hatch

It doesn’t offer limo-like levels of rear legroom, but the MINI 5-door Hatch is more practical and convenient than the standard 3-door model. The Exclusive trim is the most opulent, with a list of features including leather sports seats, LED headlights, LED rear lights, ambient lighting, an 8.8-inch screen with navigation, cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels. Of course, you can also take your pick from the options catalogue, which offers enough goodies to turn your MINI into a little luxury car. Prices start from around £18,000.

What’s the best used small luxury car?

Take a look at the Peugeot 208 XY, which combines the styling of the 208 GTI with the specification of a luxury car. Highlights include sports seats finished in Alcantara or leather, LED lights surrounding the instrument panel, a panoramic sunroof and 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It’s also worth considering the expensive but opulent MINI Goodwood and slightly oddball Renault Modus Initiale. Retro options include the Renault Clio Baccara and, wait for it, the Aston Martin Cygnet.

Can a small car be genuinely luxurious?

Not really. A great luxury car will boast a supremely comfortable ride, acres of space in the back, a powerful engine and lots of toys. It’s not possible to cram all of this into a smaller package, but that’s not to say that a supermini or hatchback shouldn’t feel upmarket. With some premium materials, desirable equipment and the right badge, a small car can do a passable impression of a luxo-barge.

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

There’s a significant difference between a premium and a luxury car. Brands like Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo dominate the premium car market, while luxury manufacturers include Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Everything shifts up a level, from the quality of the materials to the standard of equipment. That’s not to say that a manufacturer cannot build premium and luxury cars. Take Mercedes-Benz, which offers premium cars like the A-Class, C-Class and E-Class, along with luxury cars like the S-Class and GLS.