If you spend most of your time in the city driving through tight, built-up and congested settings, then it sounds like you need to get yourself a city car. Their small size and turning circles make them highly manoeuvrable. Plus, their cheap running costs mean they’re also ideal if you’re looking to rein in your costs.
In 2019, city cars are a dime a dozen, so how do you know which ones are the best of the best? To help you decide which one you should buy, carwow has compiled the definitive list of the top ten city cars.
These are the 10 best city cars on sale:
- Skoda Citigo
- Volkswagen Up
- SEAT Mii
- Hyundai i10
- Kia Picanto
- Toyota Aygo
- Peugeot 108
- Suzuki Celerio
- Vauxhall Viva
- Smart ForTwo
The Skoda Citigo is the cream of the city car crop, ticking all the boxes you’d want from something in this class. For a start, it’s cheap to buy, with its starting price of under £9,000 undercutting the mechanically identical Volkswagen Up and SEAT Mii. It’s similarly inexpensive to run, as well, thanks to the car’s 1.0-litre petrol engine being able to return up to 55.4mpg.
In town, the Citigo is a good drive. It has a comfy suspension and the car’s light weight makes it feel nippy and surprisingly agile.
The VW Up is one of the most desirable city cars out there, with snazzy styling and a hugely customisable interior (you can pick from up to twelve different colours for the dashboard). Its materials are all solid, too, with no cheap, ‘scratchy’-feeling plastics to speak of.
On the road, the Up – much like the Skoda Citigo it’s based on – is consistently smooth yet nimble, with tight and responsive controls.
The Up is spacious for a small car, although it doesn’t have a third rear middle seat, making it slightly less ideal for families than some other cars here.
Like the VW Up, the SEAT Mii uses the same mechanical underpinnings as the Skoda Citigo. As a result, its small size, decent manoeuvrability and good visibility make it perfect for nipping through rush hour traffic. It feels pretty well built for such a compact car, too, and its frugal petrol engine makes it very cheap to run. The SEAT’s got just enough room to carry four adults –for short journeys – but if you fancy a five-seater, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The boot is very small, and even entry-level models will set you back more than most compact city cars. However, if practicality isn’t high on your list of priorities, the SEAT makes a great small city car.
Unlike the Skoda, VW and SEAT, the Hyundai i10 comes with five seats. As a result, it’s much better for carrying passengers in the back. The boot’s very slightly more spacious than in those cars, too, and the optional automatic gearbox is smoother at slow speeds – ideal when you’re stuck in stop-start traffic. You won’t find many soft plastics inside the Hyundai, however, and entry-level models come with very little equipment as standard. The most affordable petrol models feel quite sluggish on the motorway, but around town, the i10’s more than nippy enough and very easy to manoeuvre.
The Kia Picanto is a similar five-seat city car to the Hyundai i10, but comes with more sporty styling and even a very slightly bigger boot. There’s just as much space inside as the Hyundai – so you’ll be able to carry two adults or three kids in the back – and its small size makes it just as easy to thread through tight back streets or into cramped parking spaces. Other small cars are more comfortable over potholes and bumps than the Kia, and versions with the fairly weedy entry-level petrol engine struggle to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic. Stick to short journeys in town, however, and the Picanto’s easy to drive, nippy enough and cheap to run.
The Aygo is the smallest car Toyota makes, which helps make it a doddle to drive in tight, congested city centres. Its light steering and large windows mean it’s a doddle to park, and the Aygo’s frugal petrol engines help keep running costs to a minimum, too. You’ll even find it slightly more fun to drive than most small cars. Unfortunately, unlike the Hyundai and Kia, the Aygo only comes with two seats in the back and the boot is only really big enough for two small suitcases or a modest weekly shop. Not everybody will love its aggressive looks, either, but it still makes a very capable compact city car.
Like the Toyota, the Peugeot 108 is an affordable small car that’s right at home in the city. Light controls make it easy to drive and there’s just enough space inside to carry four small adults on short journeys. If you fancy standing out from the crowd, you can get it with plenty of personalised vinyl stickers and a range of colourful seat trims. Sadly, the Peugeot’s boot isn’t as spacious as most other cars on our list, and it doesn’t feel as well built as the likes of the Skoda, VW and SEAT. You only get two seats in the back and it’s quite noisy at motorway speeds, but at least a frugal petrol engine makes it very cheap to run and more than perky enough for short inner-city journeys.
The Suzuki Celerio is the city car of choice if you’re a money-conscious motorist. The entry-level model will set you back less than £9,000, while the 1.0-litre petrol engine can return up to 58.8mpg fuel economy! For the (comparatively) small amount of money that this car will cost you, you get an easy and responsive drive in town. Visibility is top-notch, the steering is light and body lean is minimal.
Sadly, the Celerio is less comfy outside of the city, with its stiff suspension highlighting nasty bumps and its engine sometimes struggling on the motorway.
If you want your city car to come with a good amount of standard kit, then get yourself a Vauxhall Viva. The entry-level SE version of the car – which only costs around £10,500 – comes with all the essentials, including a Bluetooth- and USB-compatible stereo system, and even some extravagances, like mobile phone mirroring and heated door mirrors.
The Viva is cheap to run thanks to its fuel economy of up to 54mpg, while also proving agile enough to live with in towns. Sadly, take it out of an urban setting and onto faster roads, and it can begin to feel noisy and unresponsive.
As the name suggests, the Smart ForTwo it only comes with two seats, but this means its compact body is as small as possible – the whole car’s so short that you can just about park it nose-in in parallel parking spaces! As a result, it’s super-easy to drive in town and the small petrol engine doesn’t have to work hard to drive you around, so it’s impressively frugal. It’s not all good news, however. The Smart’s not particularly comfortable on rough roads and you’ll struggle to keep up with traffic on the motorway. Plenty of larger four-seat cars cost less than the rather expensive Smart, too, but it compensates for this by being one of the most manoeuvrable cars of any kind on sale.
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