Compact SUV

Car manufacturers have come up with a novel way to keep sports utility vehicles popular at a time when smaller, more efficient cars are flying out of the showrooms: they've streamlined them, marrying together the classic bulky look with a much more economical drive.

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There are several reasons why one might favour a compact SUV over a traditional one - the most obvious being price. In most cases, they tend to be around £3,000 to £7,000 cheaper than their larger counterparts, despite being just as durable and long lasting.

Running costs are similarly favourable. Compact SUVs are fitted with much smaller, less punchy engines, with service appointments and replacement parts - including tires - often proving less expensive too.

Crucially, they're also great for those living in the city, combining a spacious interior large enough for a four or five-person family while being small enough to slip into cramped parking spaces in town.

If you fancy downsizing, here are our top picks for 2018.

Audi Q2

Audi had the wind knocked out of its sails somewhat by the emissions scandal a couple of years ago, but cars like the Q2 show why customers have largely remained loyal. It's super stylish and easy to handle, with one of the best dash layouts on the market.

Kia Soul

If budget is your primary consideration, the Kia Soul is perhaps the leading car on the compact SUV market. At under £15,000 new, it's currently selling at a figure you'd be happy to part with for a simple hatchback - and the interior here is far more generous.

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan's Qashqai is the best of both worlds, selling at a fairly cheap £19,300 without scrimping on any of the major features. Performance on the motorway could perhaps be better, but you're getting a super comfortable family car - perfect for a busy town centre.

BMW X1

BMW's entry into the compact SUV market has largely sacrificed functionality in favour of flair. The X1 is geared less toward a morning school run than it is a cross-country trek, but it drives like a dream (and let's be honest: it's barely an SUV - fitting it into a small space is no problem at all).

Volvo XC40

Volvo's XC40 has brilliantly personified everything that makes the German brand so popular. It's hugely reliable on the road, replete with innovative safety features and a frugal diesel engine. It even looks super stylish - particularly with a glossy white finish.

Seat Ateca

The Seat Ateca is cut from the same cloth as the Kia Soul, in that it's available at the relatively cheap price of around £18,000, despite boasting a big spacious interior with plenty of room in the back. However, it's also much sharper on the road, packing a far more impressive punch.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Like its Audi counterpart, the Volkswagen Tiguan is on the pricier end of the spectrum. It's not going to win any beauty contests either, but happily, it's one of the few compact SUVs capable of going off-road as well as on. If you're an outdoorsy type, this is the one to plump for.

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