Narrowest cars

Congested roads, small driveways and tight car parks stressing you out? One of these narrow cars could be the cure

James Wilson
Jan 20, 2021

If you find driving on 2020s roads a hassle, you may be thinking about getting a short car, but what could make life even easier is having a narrow one. Yes, a short car might help when parking, but having a narrow car not only helps when parking, but it makes squeezing through traffic, zipping through width restrictors and even navigating car parks much less stressful.

As each generation of cars seems to get both longer and wider, however, to cater for increasingly tough safety tests and stuffing ever more equipment into cars, finding a narrow model can be a tricky feat. Fear not, though, as some modern cars are narrower than others, and make driving that little bit easier. Who knows, you might even be able to fit a narrow car into your garage when it seems like other cars simply won't fit in. Keep reading for our selection of the best narrow models.

Not all narrow cars are about being super small, though. Sometimes it is handy to have lots of cabin space or boot room but without the width - after all UK roads aren’t getting any wider but drivers continue to need room for children, luggage and all sorts of hobbies. So, we've rounded up a variety of models that are narrower than similar cars to give you the best balance of function and narrowness.

All models listed here are easily available second-hand for less than £30,000 - although most cost significantly less. Be aware that car manufacturers often quote two different figures for a car's width - one including the wing mirrors and one without, or with the mirrors folded in. Yes, ideally you'd want a narrow car with wing mirrors that don't stick out too far, but often modern cars have supersized mirrors to boost visibility, which can make them that bit easier to drive, so we've shown both figures.

Narrowest cars shortlist

1. Vauxhall Viva

Our pick Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE
Used deals from £4,990
Monthly finance from £90*
Width (including mirrors) 1,876mm (1,595mm excluding mirrors)

The Vauxhall Viva isn’t just narrow, it is small in all kinds of directions. It has to be really, as Vauxhall designed its Viva to be the kind of car that is perfect for nipping through town and slotting into tight car parking spaces (whether these be at the shops or on the drive). The Viva is narrow with mirrors included, but particularly narrow if you ignore them - something you can do when squeezing through width restrictors, where the mirrors are often above the level of the restrictors. 

Despite its small footprint, though, the Viva’s cabin offers decent space for passengers and thanks to relatively soft suspension everyone should be comfortable, too. Running costs should be small as well. This is largely down to the frugal petrol engines and relatively straight forward mechanical gubbins in the engine bay, meaning that maintenance costs should prove inexpensive.

Most versions come well-equipped (technology such as cruise control and sat-nav is included on many versions of the Viva) which helps to make long journeys more comfortable in this small machine. Vivas are relatively affordable, too, especially when compared to an equivalent age - and 3cm wider but less practical - Fiat 500.

VAUXHALL VIVA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Nissan Leaf

Our pick Nissan Leaf 160kW e+ Tekna 62kWh
Used deals from £18,756
Monthly finance from £279*
Width (including mirrors) 2,030mm (1,788 mm excluding mirrors)

Nissan is one of the pioneers of electric cars and while battery-powered vehicles are becoming more and more popular, many potential drivers still have concerns about running an electric car and being able to park up somewhere they can plug in and recharge. The current generation Nissan Leaf (which was launched in 2018) helps to address this by offering a range of up to 239 miles per charge - making it viable as many family's only car - and being nice and narrow, making it more suitable for tight roads, driveways and garages.

Handily, the Nissan Leaf is only 1mm wider than the much smaller and less practical Renault Zoe if you ignore the mirrors and 3cm narrower than the Hyundai Ioniq Electric on the same metric. Yes, the bulky wing mirrors stick out a long way, but these large mirrors give you a good view behind you and electric folding mirrors let you take advantage of the Leaf's slim body.

Moving away from size, the Leaf comes in two main flavours - standard and ‘e+’. Standard offers claimed range of up to 168 miles while e+ offers the ability to travel up to 239 miles on a full charge but costs more. Both versions come well equipped with goodies such as traffic jam assist (which allows a Leaf to automatically control its own speed in slow-moving traffic) being common. Helping to make the narrow Leaf easy to drive around town all models come with an automatic gearbox, which is the norm for battery-powered cars.

NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Ford Fiesta

Our pick Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 100hp Titanium
Used deals from £8,500
Monthly finance from £150*
Width (including mirrors) 1,941mm (1,735mm excluding mirrors)

The Ford Fiesta is a bit like Ant and Dec, pubs or fish and chips - Brits love them and have done for decades. Over the past decade or so it has constantly been at the top of the UK best-selling car chart. A large part of this success is down to the fact it manages to do everything very well and yet be reasonably affordable. It also happens to be one of the most fun small cars to drive, irrespective of whether you go for an inexpensive 1.0-litre petrol version or a performance-focused ‘ST’ version.

What also helps attract buyers is that it is well proportioned for UK roads. Take the width as an example; the Fiesta is more than 10cm narrower than the Renault Clio - which is a huge difference for cars of this size - and around 3cm narrower than the latest Peugeot 208. This skinniness can mean the difference between comfortably being able to park on the drive or constantly worrying about clipping your neighbour’s car when you back off the drive.

Furthermore, there is a mind-boggling array of Fiestas to choose from, so there should be something for everyone. For most, a Zetec model with a 1.0-litre petrol engine paired with a manual gearbox will do just great - nippy, economical and affordable. If you do fancy something more sporty, though, the Fiesta ST is an excellent choice.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Skoda Octavia Estate

Our pick Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI SE L
Used deals from £9,490
Monthly finance from £160*
Width (including mirrors) 2,017mm (1,814mm excluding mirrors)

If having the absolute narrowest estate car is a must for you then the Skoda Octavia isn’t it, but if you want a super-practical but relatively narrow estate then it is one of the best, measuring in at 6cm narrower than the equivalent VW Golf, Honda Civic and Peugeot 508 SW, while still offering a substantial 610 litres of luggage space compared with just 530 in the Peugeot, for instance.

If you can manage with a little less boot space and want something really narrow, the Skoda Fabia Estate is 6-9cm narrower than the Octavia, depending whether you're including the mirrors or not. Surprisingly, the latest Octavia may be 2cm wider when you exclude the mirrors, but it's actually 2cm narrower including the mirrors, making it very narrow for a brand new car of this size - so whether you plan to get a new or used model, the Octavia is a good narrow choice.

Skoda is part of the same company as Volkswagen and Audi so many of the engines, gearboxes and media systems used in its Octavia range are shared with other pricier models, such as the VW Golf. As a result, build quality is great, standard equipment is generally good and drivers get the choice of punchy and frugal petrol or diesel engines, plus higher performance ‘vRS’ models, which trade fuel economy for speed. Considering that the same kit would cost you more in Seat, VW and Audi models, that makes the Octavia great value.

SKODA OCTAVIA ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Ford Focus

Our pick Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost 125hp ST-Line
Used deals from £9,250
Monthly finance from £167*
Width (including mirrors) 1,979mm (1,825mm excluding mirrors)

The current Ford Focus is a lot larger than the original model, which arrived around 20 years ago, but it's still one of the narrowest cars of this size. Testament to this is the fact the Focus is 6cm narrower than key rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308. In addition to this, Ford’s engineers did an impressive job with the car, as the Focus sets the benchmark for this type of car in terms of providing an enjoyable driving experience.

The Focus also comes with a quality interior and a choice of great petrol and diesel engines. Much like the Fiesta above, our pick would be one of the turbocharged 125hp 1.0-litre petrol ‘EcoBoost’ engines. Higher mileage drivers may still want to check out a diesel version, though, as the higher initial cost of this is likely to be more than offset by lower fuel costs.

As for specifications, all trims are relatively well equipped aside from basic ‘Style’ versions, which are really best suited to those willing to trade creature comforts for a lower purchase price or monthly finance payments. In many cases, though, there is little or no difference in cost for those paying with PCP finance, so we'd choose a Zetec, ST-Line or Titanium version over a Style model.

FORD FOCUS BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Suzuki Ignis

Our pick Suzuki Ignis 1.2 Dualjet SHVS SZ5
Used deals from £8,390
Monthly finance from £126*
Width (excluding mirrors) 1,690mm (SZ-T and SZ5), 1,660mm (all other specifications)

The Suzuki Ignis made quite the impact when it arrived back in 2017. For starters, this little city car looks very quirky thanks to its small proportions and ever so slightly rugged off-roader styling. That isn’t by accident, though, as Suzuki does make a four-wheel-drive Ignis (badged as ‘ALLGRIP’) which is great for those who need a little extra grip but don’t want to drive a big and expensive four-wheel drive SUV.

Unfortunately, Suzuki doesn’t quote an official width figure including mirrors for the Ignis, but take our word for it, the Ignis is a narrow car, with its boxy shape helping to boost visibility. Excluding mirrors it is just 1,690mm wide - 1,660mm if you avoid SZ-T and SZ5 versions - which is a little more than the Viva mentioned above but less than that of the only slightly bigger Fiesta.

Most Ignis models are very well equipped, even if some of the technology isn’t as polished as more upmarket small cars, such as the Skoda Citigo. All Ignis models come with a petrol engine and most with a manual gearbox, although an automatic is available if that's what you prefer.

SUZUKI IGNIS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer 2.0 BlueHDi Flair
Used deals from £15,490
Monthly finance from £231*
Width (including mirrors) 2,117mm (1,826mm excluding mirrors)

What is astonishing about the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer is that not only is it one of the best all-round family cars - partly thanks to having a very spacious cabin - but it is only 1,826mm wide excluding mirrors, which means that the body of the car is very narrow - a good 8-9cm narrower than equivalent Ford Galaxy, Seat Alhambra and VW Sharan models. That's a substantial difference and makes driving the Citroen much less stressful than these wider alternatives. Yes, it has bulky wing mirrors, making it 4cm wider than the Alhambra and Sharan, but you can always fold these in for squeezing through the tightest spots.

What Citroen has done is designed the Grand C4 SpaceTourer to be long and thin, which is perfect for those with a large family but a tight driveway. Prices are affordable, too. Those willing to consider an older car for even better value can look at Grand C4 Picasso models, which stopped being sold in 2018, as these are practically identical to SpaceTourers save for the badge.

Whatever the name, these Citroens are quite well equipped - with tech such as cruise control, parking sensors - which are very handy for judging the front and rear of the car - and air-conditioning all common. There is also a range of great engines to choose from, too, including one, referred to as the ‘BlueHDi 100’, which is particularly economical for a car of this size - great for those who cover high mileages. For a more relaxing drive, we'd go for an automatic diesel model, as these provide a good blend of economy and power.

CITROEN GRAND C4 SPACETOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer

Our pick BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer 218i Sport
Used deals from £13,000
Monthly finance from £190*
Width (including mirrors) 2,038mm (1,800mm excluding mirrors)

If you like the idea of the Citroen above, but it's still a little too wide for your drive or garage, the 2 Series Gran Tourer could fit the bill. Yes, it's not as practical as the Citroen, but it is an upmarket, relatively compact seven-seat people carrier alternative that measures in at 10-11cm narrower than most seven-seaters without the mirrors included - meaning it has a narrow body, which is well suited for squeezing through gaps in town.

Even if you take the mirrors into account, it's a good 5-10cm narrower than most rivals, so you don't have to worry about the mirrors too much, as you do with many larger cars. Yes, the rearmost seats are best suited for children, but there is enough adjustment in the sliding middle seats that you can set things up so that modestly sized adults can get comfy enough in the back on shorter journeys.

What’s more, the 2 Series Gran Tourer is well built and enjoyable to drive. There is a good choice of manual and automatic models, plus petrol and diesel engines - with the most powerful diesel even being available with four-wheel drive. Look out for ‘xDrive’ in the name if you're looking for a four-wheel drive version.

BMW 2 SERIES GRAN TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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