Top 5 best city cars

Little cars, big value


PICKING the top five best city cars is no easy task. These are some of the best value-for-money cars available to buy  and they’re not constrained by city limits. Nearly all are surprisingly capable, packed with features, comfortable and safe in the event of an accident.

What’s more, they can be jolly good fun to drive. As modern cars continue to balloon in size, it is refreshing to get behind the wheel of a car that feels small and wieldy and offers a sense of being in touch with the road.

The diminutive size of city cars means they’re perfect for navigating tight streets lined with parked cars, not to mention squeezing through gaps in traffic. And finding a parking space is so much easier when your vehicle is pint-sized. But a good city car will also happily transport a driver and passengers from London to Leeds in comfort.

With low running costs, including insurance, fuel bills and servicing, as well as the chance to switch to electrically powered models, they also go easy on a driver’s wallet.

1. Honda e

Top five best city cars

A new kid on the block, the electric Honda e screams style. With its cute face, striking shape and a huge helping of tech (there are four screens on the inside of the car), it got the motoring world cooing as soon as it hit roads.

It’s also supremely practical in an urban environment, with very tight turning circle making it easy to manoeuvre, and as a pure-electric car it avoids congestion and ultra-low emissions charging (which is being rolled out from London to other UK cities over the next few years).

Much has been made of the Honda e’s 136 mile range, which is admittedly problematic if you need to do a long journey, but importantly it can be rapid charged in under an hour, which makes it much more capable than many might imagine.

Motor Awards 2020: The winners

It’s certainly not cheap, though, with prices starting at more than £27,000. Consider this, though: you will save you money on fuel (electricity is much cheaper per mile than petrol), VED (road tax), servicing (there are fewer moving parts) and the emissions charges mentioned above.

Plus, its multi-screen interior is just so cool. We like it so much we named City Car of the Year at the 2020 Sunday Times Motor Awards certainly can’t hurt.

2. Volkswagen Up!

Top five best city cars

No surprises here, really. The VW Up! Has been widely lauded since it hit roads at the front end of this decade, and it still remains one of the best propositions around for the urban dweller.

This is for various reasons — some practical, like the fact that prices for the 3-door iteration, which has a characterful 1-litre, three-cylinder 65bhp engine, start at a little over £12,500, and that, bearing a VW badge, resale values are fairly good. It’s also surprisingly spacious inside.

For an extra £3,500, you can get the GTI version, which adds another 50bhp, comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and meets almost every definition of the phrase “pocket rocket” — leading the Sunday Times Driving to name it Best Value Car of the Year at this year’s Motor Awards.

3. Kia Picanto

Top five best city cars

If you think with your head over your heart, the Kia Picanto could the best city car for you. That’s because of Kia’s mammoth 7-year/100,000 mile warranty, with which only a couple of other car makers — Ssangyong and MG — can compete.

It means that you can own your car, worry free, for several years and sell it on with a couple years of warranty, which can do only good things for the resale value.

There’s a number of other pragmatic persuaders, like the fact that it can get a claimed 59mpg, prices start from £10,745 and it’s a surprisingly refined driving experience.

2020 Kia Sorento review

That Kia is currently offering 0% APR with a 20% deposit (until the end of 2020) sweetens the deal.

Not the most glamorous option in this list, granted, but it’s hard to argue with numbers like that.

4. Hyundai i10

Top five best city cars

The Hyundai i10 is now in its third generation and looks excellent, sporting an athletic silhouette that makes the small car look rather more desirable than one might expect.

It’s also earned a reputation for having a bit more of a gutsy engine than some of its competitors, with three options ranging from 66bhp to 99bhp in the Up! GTI-rivalling N-Line.

Similarly, it’s become known for being just a little better to drive than some competitors with its light, agile steering.

Having said that, Jeremy Clarkson had a difference of opinion when ihe reviewed the Hyundai i10…

Jeremy Clarkson: ‘Soulless tools’ like the Hyundai i10 are no more joyful than a fridge freezer

5. Seat Mii Electric

Top five best city cars

Once upon a time, the VW Group offered a trio of broadly similar electric city cars: the VW e-Up!, the Skoda Citigo e iV and the Seat Mii. The Mii is the only of the three that is currently available to buy in the UK — a replacement electric Citigo and newest e-Up! aren’t yet available in this country.

While it might not have the style or tech of the Honda e, or the range of the Renault Zoe supermini, the Seat offers a happy medium for the modern city dweller. For one, it’s cheap — for an electric car — with prices starting at less than £20,000, which is a £7,000 saving on the price of either the Honda or Renault. It’s also got a range of 160 miles, which Seat claims goes up to 222 miles if you’re just driving in the city.

Enjoyed our review of the top 5 best city cars? You might enjoy the 10 longest-range electric cars to buy in 2021.