Top Gear’s Top 9: the most expensive small cars
Want not much metal for your money? The priciest things come in small packages...
Mini Cooper SE Convertible
Electric SUVs? Loads of them. EV superminis? Aplenty. Even electric supercars are becoming more commonplace. But electric convertibles? Not many, so far.
Mini’s not likely to change that fact: only 150 battery-powered Cooper SE soft-tops are UK-bound, and each starts at a massive £52,500. Which is a lot for only 125-miles of suntan-boosting range. But other small cars have pushed the price even higher into the realms of silliness...Advertisement - Page continues below
Aston Martin Cygnet
It seems more bizarre with every passing year: a 97bhp Toyota iQ city car treated to new lights, bumpers and leather hide inside, and marketed as an Aston Martin. Not ‘Toyota iQ by Aston’ or anything so subtle: a true entry-level Aston Martin, hoping to appeal to urban owners who grumbled about parking their V12 DB9.
Proposed sales of up to 3,000 a year were wildly optimistic and production ceased after only a couple of years and around 150 Cygs sold. As you’d expect with a price tag north of £30,000 – three times what the mechanically identical base car cost.
Fiat Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
Why get a ‘My other car is a Ferrari’ sticker when you can drive a whole car that says the same thing? This was Fiat’s attempt at cornering the high-spec city car market: an Abarth 500 painted in Rosso Corsa, with a paddleshift gearbox, a 20bhp power hike and carbon fibre trim.
An official tribute to Ferrari (but with no prancing horse badges in sight), each of the 150-bound UK examples from the limited run of 500 cars was priced at £37,500. Top Gear top tip: a sticker is cheaper.Advertisement - Page continues below
Audi A1 Quattro
Another motorsport-inspired limited edition, this was Audi’s pre-S1 crack at turning the chic-but-characterless A1 into a hot hatch worthy of the Quattro name. It was a proper job too: a 252bhp engine under the bonnet, four-wheel drive, stunning turbofan alloy wheels and a WRC-spec wing.
Only 333 were built of which 18 came to the UK, in left-hand drive only. For this, you were asked to pay £41,000. Want a mint one today? You’ll be paying more – this unsung Audi hero hasn’t depreciated.
Mini Inspired by Goodwood
Heard the one about the Mini that thinks it’s a Rolls-Royce? This forgotten tie-up between BMW’s two British offshoot brands turned up in 2012, and it’s a proper rarity: 1,000 units worldwide, of which 100 were earmarked for UK sale. In return for a mighty £41,000, MIBG owners got a Cooper S weighed down with the softest cows known to mankind.
Real walnut adorned the dashboard, and even the standard Mini carpets made way for deep-pile Rolls-Royce lambswool. But no winged ‘flying lady’ on the bonnet, in case the car took off on the motorway.
Aston Martin Cygnet V8
Yes, our friend the Cygnet makes a second appearance on our list because this one-off is very possibly the most expensive small car of all time. Ever.
Yes, one gloriously loony Aston enthusiast attempted to credit the Cygnet’s red-faced reputation by commissioning a city car with the 4.7-litre engine and running gear from a V8 Vantage S. The total paid is a closely guarded Aston Martin secret protected by specially trained peacocks and a heavily-armed butler. But we were told – when we took this bizarre Frankenstein’s baby-monster for a little drive around London – that another example would require between £250,000 and £500,000. Which is as much as it costs to park in London for a WEEK.
Smart Brabus Ultimate E
Famed Mercedes tuners Brabus have been adding more power and attitude to the diminutive Smart car for decades, but we presumed that improbable team-up would die a death as Smart went all-electric. We were wrong. Brabus decided it could fiddle with the electric Smart’s throttle calibration, while applying the usual fatter tyres and bullish body kit.
The Ultimate E cabrio is good for 92bhp and 0-62mph in 10.9sec, which isn’t very ‘Brabus’ – but the price was. Back in 2020, one of these would set you back €50,000. Used AMG C63, anyone?Advertisement - Page continues below
Besides the limited edition Mini Cabrio up top, the Honda e is the only car of our nine still on sale today. It’s a very lovable device, the e: fun to drive, cute to look at, comfy to sit in and very well put together.
But for a mere 130 miles of range, its current price of just under £37,000 is a lot. If you had that printed in twenties, it wouldn’t fit in the teeny boot.
The smallest car ever in the world will cost you a big ol’ pile of moolah, if you want one of the original 192 examples. Fewer than 30 exist today, and at auction they command £110,000-£120,000.
Happily, you can buy a brand new recreation with petrol or electric power, for around a tenth of that. See, TopGear.com can bring you cheap small car buying advice after all.Advertisement - Page continues below