Best small SUVs
Pros: Spacious interior, turbo engine option, comfortable ride
Cons: Halogen headlights on lower models, optional safety features, no rear vents
Boot space: 430L
The Kia Seltos is a small SUV on paper, but it packs an impressive amount of space into its boxy body. It’s one of the biggest cars in its class, and is a good compromise for buyers who want a big boot in a city-friendly SUV.
Kia backs the Seltos with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Two engines are offered, starting with a 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol making 110kW and 180Nm. A 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is also available, with 130kW and 265Nm.
Pros: Luxurious interior, refined drive, strong standard equipment list
Cons: No turbocharged engine, tight back seat, relatively small boot
Boot space: 422L
The Mazda CX-30 is one of the most grown-up small SUVs on the market. The interior is luxurious, especially in higher-end models, and even the base model comes with a long list of standard inclusions.
Technology nerds and early adopters will be interested in the X20 Astina, which is powered by a petrol engine capable of operating like a diesel in certain conditions to save fuel. At the bottom end of the range, Mazda will still sell you a manual.
The CX-30 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Four engines are on offer, including a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol (114kW/200Nm), a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol (139kW/252Nm), and a 2.0-litre supercharged four-cylinder plus 24V mild-hybrid system (132kW/223Nm) dubbed X20.
New for 2022 is the G20e engine from the MX-30, with 114kW and 200Nm. It’s supported by a 24V mild-hybrid system.
Pros: Good value with no options, characterful engines, spacious interior
Cons: Missing blind-spot as standard, transmission can be awkward, options are expensive
Boot space: 400L
The Kamiq is smaller than the Seltos and CX-30, but it’s a seriously smart little car. Not only does it have a massive boot, it drives like a bigger car on the highway.
Skoda backs its cars with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
There are two engines on offer, a three-cylinder 85TSI and a more powerful four-cylinder 110TSI. The 85TSI (85kW/200Nm) is more than enough for life in the city, but the more powerful 110TSI (110kW/250Nm) is better for highway driving.
Pros: Good in-car technology, fun to drive, peppy performance
Cons: Tight back seat, intrusive driver assists, gets expensive at the top end
Boot space: 374L
The Kona is a small SUV stalwart, and was treated to an update in 2020. It’s one of the smaller cars on our list here, and drives like an overgrown hatchback rather than a lumbering bus.
Two engines are offered in the normal range, starting with a 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol making 110kW and 180Nm. A 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is also available, with 130kW and 265Nm.
There’s even a powered-up Kona N version, with a 206kW engine good for a 100km/h sprint time of 5.5 seconds. That makes it hot-hatch fast.
The Kona is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Hyundai is unique in offering an all-electric take on the Kona, although it’s significantly more expensive than the petrol. Pricing starts at $54,500 before on-roads for a car with a claimed 305km of range.
Pros: Hybrid option, fun-to-drive, unique interior design
Cons: Lacking grunt, poor visibility, bigger RAV4 is similar money
Boot space: 318L
Toyota is known for practical, sensible cars, but it can get a bit funky when it wants to. The C-HR is pitched as the sporty Toyota SUV, with an edgy design and interior that’s all about angles.
Two engines are available in the C-HR. The range opens with a 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine (85kW/185Nm), but the GR Sport and Koba are both available with a 1.8-litre hybrid (90kW).
Toyota offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, although coverage on the powertrain is extended to seven years if you service within the brand’s dealer network.
The C-HR was the first Toyota to be offered with a style-oriented GR Sport trim level. It sits alongside the Koba at the top of the range, and gets unique wheels, leather-accented seats, and LED lighting all around.