Ford Fiesta (2009–2017)
Vauxhall Chevette (1975–1984)
Renault Clio (2019-present)

Supermini is a British car classification or vehicle size class for a small car, usually in a hatchback body style. It is an equivalent of the European B-segment or American subcompact categories.[1][2]

The term is also used by Euro NCAP for a size class including B-segment and the smaller A-segment cars.

In the UK the supermini is the top-selling vehicle type. For years the Ford Fiesta has been the leader of the class, and often most-sold car in the UK overall, competing against the Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo,[3] Renault Clio, Peugeot 208,[4] and many others.

History of the term

The term developed in the 1970s as an informal categorisation,[5] and by 1977 was used regularly by the British newspaper The Times.[6] By the mid-1980s, it had widespread use in Britain.[7][8]

The term was adopted by Euro NCAP as the smallest size class for passenger vehicles for the launch of Euro NCAP in 1997.[9] The first round of NCAP tests was of seven supermini cars. The term is also used by the Euro NCAP system as a size class for A-segment ("city cars") and B-segment ("small cars").[10]

Model development

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1970s and 1980s

1983–1990 Peugeot 205
1983–1990 Peugeot 205

In 1977, the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Chevette were among Britain's top 10 best-selling cars.

Other superminis of the mid-1980s included the Austin Metro, Vauxhall Nova, Nissan Micra, Peugeot 205, Volkswagen Polo and Renault 5. The 1983 Fiat Uno was praised and won the European Car of the Year award.


1990–1998 Renault Clio I
1990–1998 Renault Clio I

The 1990 Renault Clio and 1994 Fiat Punto were significant models in the supermini category during the 1990s.[why?]. Both the Clio and Punto were recipients of the European Car of the Year Award. The Clio replaced the long-running Renault 5, although the Renault 5 remained in production until 1996. In 1993, the Nissan Micra (K11), became the first Japanese car company to be receive the European Car of the Year award. In 1999, the Toyota Yaris received the European Car of the Year award, and was noted for its high roof which allowed for improved interior space.

2000s to present

2000–2006 Mini Hatch
2000–2006 Mini Hatch

Retro styling became popular across Europe from the late-1990s, and the first successful retro-themed supermini was the 2000 launch of the BMW-owned Mini Hatch (the 1959–2000 Mini was in the smaller city car category, however the new model was a larger size and thus in the supermini category). The Fiat 500— launched in 2007 on the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the original model— was another popular retro-themed supermini that was popular in Europe.


  1. ^ "Motor Industry Facts 2013" (PDF). The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. 2013. p. 28. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Which? Car Supplement". Which?. Consumers' Association: 5. October 1984. Popularly known as superminis, these cars are a size larger than the original BMC Mini and are typified by the Austin Metro.
  3. ^ "Best superminis 2019". Auto Express. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  4. ^ "What is a supermini?". Parkers. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  5. ^ Waymark, Peter (30 May 1977). "Basic design changes are the only way to cut car costs". The Times. p. 16. From the fuel-saving point of view there can have been no more welcome trend in the past five years than the appearance from one European manufacturer after another of what has become known as the "supermini" – the Fiat 127, Renault 5, Peugeot 104, Volkswagen Polo and most recently, the Ford Fiesta.
  6. ^ Waymark, Peter (5 May 1977). "Motoring". The Times Digital Archive. p. 33. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  7. ^ Mann, D (1999). Car definitions and forecast methodology. Automotive Plastics & Composites – Worldwide Markets & Trends to 2007. Elsevier. p. 176. ISBN 9780080527741. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  8. ^ European Motor Business. (Economist Intelligence Unit)(whole issue no 4–7)   1986.
  9. ^ "Timeline". Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Latest Safety Ratings". Retrieved 4 January 2019.