Best city cars 2021
The best city cars are perfect if you're on a budget, a new driver or simply want a small car for nipping around town.
Ideal if you want a small runabout, the best city cars are also great for longer trips, while they're also cheaper to run (45-50mpg for most models), tax and insure than larger cars. That's not all. While all city cars small, easy to park, and will cost absolute peanuts to run, their design also mean they can even carry a small family and the weekly shop.
While modern city cars won't break the bank, the best city cars all come with comfy cabins and solid constructions that see plenty of soft-touch materials and plenty of kit as standard, with many including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
With most manufacturers producing a city car, there's an overwhelming choice of options out there for you. To help you pick the right city car for your needs, our guide below highlights the top 10 city cars you can buy in 2021. These are the best city cars to drive, most comfortable, most economical and easy to manoeuvre into tight spaces.
Year launched: 2020
The latest Hyundai i10 is so good, we reckon it's one of the best city cars money can buy right now. It's actually quite large for a city car but it's got a smaller footprint than a Vauxhall Corsa, which warrants its inclusion here.
It's cheap to run, with a choice of 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines – both capable of around 45mpg in the real world. Most Hyundai i10 models will have a five-speed manual gearbox but Hyundai also offers an automatic version. It's actually an automated manual gearbox which isn't the slickest, but it does the job if you can't or won't change gears yourself.
It's an easy and comfortable car to drive while the interior gets the basic spot on. It feels surprisingly roomy for such a small car, with loads of elbow and shoulder room in the front. The boot can swallow up to 252 litres of luggage, too.
Year launched: 2012
The Volkswagen Up (as well as its rebadged relatives the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo) has been on sale for nearly a decade yet it's still one of the best city cars on sale. It truly rocked the city car market when it arrived in 2012 – before the Up, city cars had been fairly miserable affairs that you only bought if you really couldn't afford anything better.
The Up is a genuinely brilliant small car, though. With wheel-at-each-corner packaging, you can actually squeeze four adults in the Up without too many complaints, and its mighty 1.0-litre engine ensures it won't come to a standstill as soon as you reach a steep hill.
It's both easy and fun to drive, and there's even an electric model. Capable of travelling up to 159 miles between charges, the Volkswagen e-Up's whizzy acceleration makes it a boon to drive around town.
Year launched: 2017
Just like the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Up, the Kia Picanto is such a competent all-rounder that you'll think twice about spending more on a bigger car. It's a doddle to drive while its tiny petrol engines punch well above their weight.
Okay, the cheapest models are fairly basic, but if you splash the cash on a Picanto GT-Line S you'll get things like heated seats, faux leather upholstery and a wireless phone charger. Combine this with a seven-year warranty that's transferable to subsequent owners, and the Kia Picanto is a very appealing little car.
Kia Picanto prices start from around £11,000 but a budget of just £8000 will get you a three-year-old mid-spec model. As most city car buyers tend not to cover a lot of miles, it'll feel a lot like a new car, too.
Year launched: 2014
The Toyota Aygo is made on the same production line as the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 and, if you're looking for a city car that's fun to drive and cheap to run, you won't go wrong with any of the trio. If we had to choose between these city cars, though, our money would go on the Aygo – not only does it look the part with its distinctive 'X' front-end, it's also well-equipped and backed up by an excellent dealer network.
There's just one engine to choose from: a feisty little 1.0-litre unit which is more than punchy enough for shifting the Aygo's 840kg kerb weight. You can pick from a manual or automated manual gearbox (we'd go for the former), while an official fuel consumption figure of 57.7mpg should translate to something around 50mpg in everyday driving.
A new Toyota Aygo will cost you upwards of £12,500 but, thanks to the magic of depreciation, you can save around £4000 by seeking out a year-old example on heycar.
Year launched: 2013
If you rarely drive long distances and want a car for scooting around town, why not consider an electric city car? You might think they're expensive or require compromise, but a day or two with a Renault Zoe is sure to change your mind.
For a start, it's so easy (and enjoyable) to drive. Hit the accelerator and you're off – no gears to bother with, while its silent running means you're sure to reach your destination feeling as zen as a yoga teacher.
Look for a 2019-onwards model and you'll get a 52kWh battery which provides an official range of 245 miles. If you only use your car for the school run or popping to the shops, you could go for a week without having to charge the Zoe.
Year launched: 2017
If you want to stand out from the crowd, the Suzuki Ignis is a quirky little faux-SUV with retro looks and low running costs. Its upright stance gives you an excellent view of the road ahead, yet its footprint is barely any bigger than a Volkswagen Up – so parking's a piece of cake.
The only engine option is a 1.2-litre petrol motor, but look for one with SHVS badging and it gets mild-hybrid technology. This utilises a small battery to recuperate energy that's normally wasted under braking, before using an electric motor to provide a useful boost in performance without sacrificing fuel economy
Okay, the interior of the Ignis isn't as impressive as the latest Hyundai i10, but it's comfortable enough and you can even squeeze a pair of adults into the rear seats without too many complaints.
Year launched: 2014
Packaging is everything in city cars. Every litre of space matters, and that's why Renault decided to try something different with its quirky third-generation Twingo. The engine is positioned in the back – rather than the front – with power going to the rear wheels. In theory, this leaves more interior space for people and, er, things.
As you'd expect, the Twingo's unusual layout means it's also a bit different to drive. No, it's not quite the same as a Porsche 911 (even though that takes a similar approach), but it darts eagerly around the city. The front wheels can turn up to 45 degrees, too, meaning it has the turning circle of a London cab – great for an impromptu 360-degree change of direction.
A downside is the Twingo can feel a bit out of its depth on the open road but, if you mainly drive around town, and shouldn't be an issue. Go for the 0.9-litre TCe engine – it might be smaller in capacity than the 1.0-litre unit that's also available, but it features a turbo which gives it a useful boost in power.
Year launched: 2014
If you were around in the 70s, you might associate the Viva name with the family saloon car your Uncle Dave drove. Unfortunately, the 2014 Vauxhall Viva shares very little with its namesake, but it's still a very competent little car that won't break the bank.
Just like the rest of the cars that feature here, the Viva ticks all the boxes: low running costs, decent equipment levels and an unsensational driving experience. It might be competent but there really isn't anything exciting about the Viva.
Still, that means you can pick up a bargain. Used examples on heycar start from as little as £5000, while even the latest examples won't cost much more than £8000. If you're after a slightly more stylish Vauxhall city car, take a look at the Vauxhall Adam.
Year launched: 2016
Not only did the original Ford Ka look completely different to anything else on the road, it was also an absolute blast to drive and represented excellent value for money. No wonder so many of us have happy memories of a Ford Ka as our first car.
So where did it all go wrong? The Ford Ka+ is drab to look at, drab to drive, and has a pretty drab interior too. But it's unashamedly a value offering – it's bigger than most of the cars featured here and no more expensive.
A budget of just £6000 will get you a 2017 Ka+ that's been lovingly cared for and only covered a handful of miles. If you can stretch the budget, though, we'd suggest looking at the popular Ford Fiesta instead.
Year launched: 2012
The Fiat Panda proves you don't have to blow the budget on a quirky and practical urban runaround. Just like the original Panda, the latest model is cheap to run, packed with personality, and you can even buy a 4x4 version.
Sure, it's been around a while and its interior falls short compared to newer alternatives like the Hyundai i10. But it's still a practical choice, with much more interior space than the trendy Fiat 500.
Look for a 2020 model for mild-hybrid technology. A pre-registered model (that's one with only a handful of miles on the clock) can be picked up for less than £10,000.
If you're after a reliable city car, the Toyota Aygo is a good choice. The brand has an excellent reliability record, a strong dealer network and the Aygo comes with a five-year warranty.
City cars heycar recommends
1.25 3 5dr
- 26,433 miles
- Lookers SEAT Manchester
- Lancashire, M72YJ
Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £244.73, Customer Deposit: £1,349.00, Total Deposit: £1,349.85, Total Charge For Credit: £1,171.13, Total Amount Payable: £10,170.13, Representative APR: 9.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 9.83%
1.0 2 5dr
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- Rayrigg Motors Kia Morecambe
- Lancashire, LA33AY
Finance is available. Speak to the dealer to find out more
1.25 3 5dr
- 8,930 miles
- Robins And Day Peugeot Manchester
- Lancashire, M54DG
Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £199.42, Customer Deposit: £1,501.00, Total Deposit: £1,501.50, Optional Final Payment: £3,623.00, Total Charge For Credit: £2,094.20, Total Amount Payable: £12,104.20, Representative APR: 11.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 11.9%, Excess Mileage Charge: 12.5ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000