Very small cars

If you think that the VW up! is small, then these tiny cars and very small cars will blow your mind

Oct 15, 2020

If you think a Skoda Citigo looks small, park a Smart ForTwo next to it. All of a sudden, the Skoda looks like a large luxury car. It’s no wonder you see so many ForTwos doing their party trick of parking nose-to-the-kerb like a motorcycle, still leaving a little room for a small car to park conventionally in the same space.

For the record, the compact Citigo is 3563mm long but a Fortwo only 2695mm. In fact, the Fortwo has long been the shortest new car you can buy. The Renault Twizy, meanwhile, which is so small and light it wasn't technically classed as a car, measures in at just 2337mm long.

Taking 3465mm - the length of a Toyota Aygo and about as short as a modern city car gets - as our cut-off point, we’ve drawn up a list of seven very small cars. If simply the idea of parking brings you out in a sweat, fear not; these cars should make your life much easier.

Renault Twizy

Length 2337mm

The Renault Twizy is so small and light it's not even technically classed as a car in legal terms; it's a quadricycle - positioning it between a motorbike and a conventional car.

Of all the small-cars-that-aren't-technically-cars, it’s probably the coolest, and because it was produced by a major car manufacturer, the one with the most credibility. That said, Euro NCAP, the European car crash safety organisation, awarded it just two out of five stars when it crash tested the model. That doesn't make it dangerous - it's safer than being on a motorbike, for instance, it's just not as safe as conventional cars, which in particular offer much greater protection in side impacts.

The Twizy is powered by a 17bhp electric motor and its battery has a 45-mile range. It can only be charged from a domestic three-pin socket, although it is possible to buy an adapter for public charging.

It’s very much an urban vehicle though. Driver and passenger sit in line inside an open body shell - windows are extra. If you plan to drive in all weather and on faster roads, the windows are well worth having.

As for the boot, there’s very little luggage space, but if you live in the city and the idea of a simple and cool-looking runabout that is safer than a motorcycle but even cheaper to run appeals to you, then the Twizy makes a lot of sense.

Smart ForTwo

Length 2695mm
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Anyone coming from a conventional car will have no trouble adapting to the ForTwo. It's like a normal car, only smaller and with just two seats.

The ForTwo’s two occupants (hence its name) sit inside a tough safety cell. This version of the ForTwo was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2014, when it achieved an overall safety rating of four out of five stars. That's a good rating for such a tiny machine.

The ForTwo is powered by a small petrol engine mounted at the rear, behind the seats. Its clever packaging means that most of the car is devoted to occupant space, with just a small space taken up by the engine.

Thanks to the Fortwo's dinky dimensions and small turning circle, the ForTwo makes a great little city car. There’s even an electric version that’s even more at home in the urban jungle. Think twice about the model if you're considering longer drives, though, as it offers a very limited real-world range per charge.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

Toyota iQ

Length: 2985mm 

The iQ is no longer made by Toyota, having been replaced by the roomier and more practical Aygo. Even so, it’s worth a look as a used car if you’re after something tiny.

Not as dinky as a ForTwo it has to be said, but then that car doesn't have the iQ’s four seats. Admittedly, those rear seats are big enough only for children, although the front passenger seat is positioned further forward to free up legroom for someone larger and older in the left rear seat.

The iQ is powered by a choice of economical 1.0 and 1.3-litre petrol engines. The latter is the one to go far if you’re planning any drives out of town, as it offers a much greater spread of power.

Remarkably, the little car was awarded five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2009. That's impressive for such a small car, however, the Euro NCAP tests get tougher year after year, so the iQ isn't as safe as a brand new five-star car today.

Aston Martin Cygnet

Length 3078mm 

This Aston Martin was made between 2011 and 2013 and is a rare sight today. Essentially, it’s a luxurious Toyota iQ that cost around twice the price from new. It features a hand-crafted interior trimmed in leather, some bespoke body styling, and Aston’s striking trademark grille on the front. Sadly, the 1.3-litre engine was unchanged from the iQ, making this an extremely expensive alternative to the very similar Toyota above.

Few were sold, and its rarity factor helps to keep used prices high. Unless you have to have the smallest and most luxurious car, however, 99% of drivers would be better off with the Toyota.

Citroen C Zero/Peugeot iON

Length 3475mm

OK, these little electric cars, developed as a joint venture between Citroen, Mitsubishi (see below), and Peugeot, shouldn't be in this list, as they're longer than the Toyota Aygo. However, they're still pretty tiny.

The reason they make the cut, is that they are just so narrow at 1475mm, where most city cars are more than 1600mm. They look even narrower thanks to the high roof, which does at least benefit head room.

The 66hp electric motor is quite eager when pulling off but quickly runs out of puff, while the battery soon runs out of range - around 60 miles is all you can expect on real roads. If you want a car for a relatively short zero-emission commute, though, it could be perfect. 

 

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