If you’re looking to buy a small car in 2023 you may be finding it a little bewildering; there’s a surprising amount of choice when it comes to new cars designed for the city.
Whether you’re a new driver, or looking to downsize or simply replace your trusty old small car, here we’ve picked our favourite models that are on sale in 2023.
Our choices include feature-packed petrol models and a couple of the best city-focused electric cars.
Whichever you choose, they’re small, easy to drive, refined and deliver versatility that belies their compact dimensions. They are all cracking fun behind the wheel, too.
While the latest Fiat 500 retains some of the retro-inspired looks of its predecessor, there are clever styling tweaks (check out the split LED headlights) and it’s all-new underneath.
The electric drivetrain delivers a maximum range of 204 miles, which will be plenty for use in the kind of urban habitat for which the 500 is designed.
You pay a high price for it up front, but the running costs are tiny, and the 500 is an upmarket machine packed with style and featuring nippy handling.
It’s been around for a while now but the VW Up! is still a masterclass in small car design. It packs as much passenger space inside as a larger supermini (although the boot is minuscule), while great connectivity means you can plug in your smartphone and use it as part of the dashboard.
Available with three or five doors, the Up! comes with a petrol engine and manual gearbox combo.
Hyundai now makes cars that are a match for anything out there. The current i10 is actually a cut above most of the competition in many ways; a feature-packed city car that brings upmarket tech to the class. It mirrors the VW Up! by having a surprising amount of space inside, but since it’s a newer machine the connectivity options are greater. The boot is much bigger, too.
Power comes from either a 1-litre three-cylinder engine (perfect for town), a 1.2-litre four-cylinder (better for longer trips) and a rorty turbocharged three-cylinder making nearly 100bhp. The latter is no GTI but still delivers a fun drive and paris particularly well with the new N Line specification introduced as part of a raft of updates in early 2023.
The Picanto is closely related to the i10, since Kia and Hyundai are sister companies. They use similar underpinnings and the Picanto also uses the pair of 1-litre engines found in its sister model.
But list prices start a bit lower for the Kia, while the sportier GT-Line S versions add style without ramping up the insurance costs. There’s the attraction of Kia’s seven-year warranty, too.
Toyota Aygo X
The all-new Aygo hit showrooms in 2022, and it’s a step-change for Toyota’s smallest car. It’s still built at the same factory in the Czech Republic, and has the same compact dimensions and rev-happy 1-litre engine as the old car, but this time around the addition of an X to its name signifies its new rugged, off-road-inspired looks.
Concept car looks help the electric Honda e stand out, while top-spec models feature a bank of screens across the wood-topped dashboard in one of the coolest cabins out there; the outer displays show video images in place of door mirrors.
A rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout sounds sporty, and electric power means plenty of get-up-and-go, especially at lower speeds. Plus the Honda e has an incredibly tight turning circle, making it ideal for city streets.
If you can afford it (you’ve noticed the sticker price, right?), it’s a really fun, high-quality urban runabout. The advertised range “of up to 137 miles” is more like not much more than 100 miles on a mix of roads, though, so it’s not ideal if you regularly drive long distances.
- If you found our article on best small cars to buy in 2023 interesting, you might also like to read our choice of top five best cars for students
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