Representing the smallest and most affordable class of all in the car market, city cars are compact and can appeal to a wide range of different drivers.
City cars are designed mainly for driving in urban areas. They are also generally cheap to buy and run, and usually fall under the lowest insurance group numbers, making them especially appealing to young drivers or anyone else concerned particularly by insurance costs.
The best examples of city cars found in the market are very stylish and impressively practical for their size, thanks to smart design choices.
City cars also typically have light steering and very small turning circles which make them good for driving in urban areas. But some city cars also stand out in this regard more than others. Certain city cars also fair better with motorway driving and windy country roads.
In this guide, we take a look at the best, most user-friendly and most value-for-money city cars you can buy in the new car market right now.
Volkswagen smallest car, the Up, is available in three and five-door guises, and offers great practicality for a car in its category.
It also has decent steering which feels both weighty and easy-going. All drivers regardless of age and experience can appreciate how gentle and responsive the Up feels when driving. The Volkswagen Up also feels grippy and has minimal body roll through winding roads, a feat many city cars has struggled to achieve in the past, in all honesty.
Under the bonnet there’s a 1.0-litre petrol engine, which can produce 59bhp or 73bhp. Neither output is what you’d say mind-blowing but the power feels certainly adequate, especially the 73bhp version. The engine does well handling either city commutes or travelling on a dual carriageway, and more potent engine options will arrive in the near future.
The boot of the Volkswagen Up offers 251 litres of capacity as standard. Very little in the city car market can also deliver a figure that large. There’s also a surprising amount of rear headroom inside. This is also one of the nicest made city cars around in terms of the quality of materials used in the cabin and the insulation too.
If the Volkswagen Up is too expensive, then you might want to consider the car’s more affordable siblings. They are the Skoda Citigo and the SEAT Mii, which use the same platform and engines. While they look a bit different and use cheaper cabin materials, they still share most of the Up’s excellent strengths.
The latest-generation Hyundai i10 was launched in early 2014 and it is not only far superior to its predecessor, but also one of the best city cars on the market nowadays.
Hyundai’s latest i10 delivers a drive that feels really smooth and very well refined. It’s almost unbelievable just how quiet this car is on the move. Compared to most similar priced alternatives, the Hyundai i10 feels more adaptable to a mixture of different driving situations.
Engines for the i10 include a 1.0-litre petrol unit with 65bhp and a 1.2-litre petrol unit with 86bhp. The i10 with the 65bhp engine feels fine for city commuting but the 1.2-litre engine is noticeably quicker and feels particularly flexible.
The i10 also has a very smart looking interior which is more spacious than most of its competitors. The boot capacity is measured at a very competitive 252 litres as standard. The current Hyundai i10 is an excellent testament to what can be achieved with new city cars nowadays in terms of quality and practicality.
The Fiat Panda may be somewhat overshadowed by another small car in the Italian manufacturer’s line-up, the 500, but this city car comes with its own unique charm.For starters, the Fiat Panda is really affordable and competitively priced compared to most other city cars and all new cars in general. The tall body means you get plentiful headroom both at the front and back, but there’s impressively little body roll as well when you take the car through corners at speed.
Engines for the current Fiat Panda include the excellent 0.9-litre TwinAir turbocharged petrol unit, a previous winner of the International Engine of the Year accolade. The TwinAir in the Fiat Panda merges performance and efficiency in an impressive manner.
The styling of the Fiat Panda for both the exterior and interior is eye-catching and all-round interesting. This is one of the most easy-going and deceptively practical city cars money can buy in the new market right now.
The Fiat Panda offers great diversity as well, with 4x4 and even more rugged Panda Cross derivatives available for those that want to drive not just on the road but on terrain off the road too.
The latest incarnation of the Vauxhall Viva is a versatile five-door city car which replaced the Agila in 2015 and offers a lot to small car buyers on a budget.
Launching a new city car to the market segment is no easy task, not even for a manufacturer as big as Vauxhall, because the quantity and standard of competition is so high. So what has Vauxhall done to make its Viva one of the best city cars?
Well for one thing, the steering has an engaging, weighty feeling that gives you the confidence to approach corners with a bit of enthusiasm.
Also impressing is the Viva’s engine, which is a 1.0-litre ECOTEC petrol unit with 74bhp. This naturally-aspirated engine doesn’t rely on a turbocharged, but it doesn’t really need one as there’s already plenty of pulling power on offer. The Viva feels like one of the easiest city cars to drive and its one of the best in the market for coping with stop-start traffic and uphill starts.
Other plus points of the Viva include the nicely designed interior and lengthy list of standard equipment which features cruise control and a lane departure warning.
Peugeot’s latest city car and the replacement to the much-loved 107, the Peugeot 108 is a cutely-designed small car with a strong engine line-up and neat customisation options.
Options in the engine line-up include the notable 1.2-litre PureTech petrol unit with 82bhp, which makes driving through town or on a motorway feel like a doddle.The Peugeot 108 also crucially offers light steering and a small turning circle and this car definitely feels like a good choice for those with little driving experience.
Customers can have their Peugeot with three or five doors and add a range of personalised options for the interior, roof and more. There’s even a cabriolet version of the 108 alongside the standard hatchback, called the 108 TOP, featuring an electric-folding fabric roof.
The Peugeot 108 feels like a very solid and well-priced choice of city car and there are similarly priced alternatives which share many of the same components available too. The 108 shares production with both the latest Citroën C1 city car and the Toyota Aygo as well. If you like the look of either of them more, then it’s worth checking them out.