Whether you are a commuter looking for some personal space post-lockdown, a newly qualified driver looking for an easy-to-drive first car or just someone after a cheap runaround for short trips, a city car could be the perfect vehicle for you. The compact models are easy to drive, easy to park and relatively cheap to buy and run, making them ideal as long as you don't make too many long journeys or need to carry lots of passengers.
Although some manufacturers have killed off their city cars in recent years there are still pelnty of options out there so we spoke to the editorial team at online marketplace YesAuto to help come up with the 10 best city cars on sale right now.
In terms of having fun in a city car, it doesn’t get much better than the VW Up, with its mega little chassis and go-kart like steering. There’s an option to upgrade to the Up GTI, which has 113bhp but obviously costs more. The Up doesn’t come with a lot of kit as standard, but if you want the badge and VW build quality, this model is the one for you.
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It doesn’t take a genius to work out the Mii Electric shares much of its DNA with the VW Up, but unlike the VW, which comes in petrol and electric versions, Seat decided to ditch the petrol version and just focus on an electric powertrain. Its combination of a 161-mile range and 82bhp motor good for a 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds (which feels much faster when driving it), makes it one of the most sensible EVs on the market. The interior is refreshingly simple and functional, and it has much more room than you would think.
Attractive design, solid build quality and a generous amount of standard equipment make the Kia Picanto one of the best city cars that money can buy. When buying one you will be asked whether you want the 1.0-litre or 1.2-litre engine options and YesAuto recommends going for the 1.2-litre. The lower powered version really limits how much you can take it on motorways. That said, the Picanto has a decent amount of interior space and drives very nicely in all other respects, especially in terms of how well it handles bumpy roads.
If you like to turn heads on the road then the Toyota Aygo is definitely the city car for you. Its futuristic design is certainly eye-catching, and the 1-litre, three-cylinder engine is also a stand-out feature. The Aygo is well equipped for the price, including a touchscreen infotainment system which hosts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it is a doddle to drive around town, with a very advantageous turning circle of 10.2 metres. Space in the back is limited though, so think hard about often you will need to carry passengers.
The Hyundai i10 is a very practical city car, with room for five people and a decent boot which is more than capable of swallowing the weekly big shop. But the best thing about it is how easy and fun it is to drive around town. It is nimble and light, making it great for darting in and out of urban traffic, and its engines are keen to please. If you need the i10 to do long journeys, you’re best going for the 100bhp 1.2-litre engine, the 67bhp entry level can be found lacking on fast overtakes. A clean and simple interior is the cherry on the top of this very attractive city car.
The Suzuki Ignis exudes cool with its tough and boxy looks, but a retro charm which you don’t often get from other cars in this class. But it’s more than style over substance: the crossover styling helps free up plenty of interior space, while retaining the nimble and easy-to-drive qualities of other city cars. The Ignis’ standard kit list is impressive, including DAB radio, Bluetooth and a seven-inch colour touchscreen. There’s just one 89bhp engine on offer, which can feel a bit underpowered on fast roads, but if most of your driving is done around town you won’t find yourself wanting more power.
The Peugeot 108 offers plenty of value for money and is arguably one of the better-looking cars in the class. There’s a choice of three- or five-door models, and it can be optioned with a retractable canvas roof, which is a nice touch. There’s only one engine to choose from, a 1.0-litre 72bhp unit which can feel a little sluggish at times but is more than capable around town and can even feel quite nippy when worked hard. Even entry models get LEDs and USB charging in the cabin, but moving up through the trim levels quickly adds things like Apple CarPlay and DAB radio.
Whatever you think of the way it looks, you can’t fault the Panda when it comes to practicality. There’s a healthy 260 litres of boot space, and the rear seats split in either a 50:50 configuration or a 60:40. The entry level model comes with electric windows and hill start assist, while the top trim offers Bluetooth, 15-inch alloys and a six-speaker sound system. It’s relatively quiet in the cabin, even at higher speeds, and the ride over bumpy ground isn’t too intrusive. And even though the Panada feels tall, there is little in the way of body roll.
Super cute and characterful, the Fiat 500 has become a huge hit with fashion conscious drivers (read: young people), and now there’s even a frugal mild hybrid version, although it’s not as torquey as you might expect from a hybrid. The Fiat 500 feels incredibly light and agile and is a doddle to park or squeeze into small gaps in traffic, while it isn’t awful on the motorway, even if it is a bit noisy in the cabin. The interior is as eye-catching as the exterior, with a retro look which harks back to the original 1950s version, although build quality isn’t as good as some of its rivals.
With prices starting at less than £7,000, the Dacia Sandero really is one of the best value for money cars on the market, full stop. While looks aren’t its strong point, the Sandero is one of the roomiest cars in the class, with plenty of useful cubbyholes in the cabin and rear seats which fold in a 60:40 split. A word of warning: in the entry trim the Sandero is extremely basic – it doesn’t even offer aircon or a radio. Moving up trim levels, the kit is still quite bargain basement, but you can still get all the mod cons you need and for not much money.