Best city cars 2024
Downsizing makes sense if you want a car that’s cheap to buy, affordable to run and easy to drive. Here are the best city cars on sale today.
If space is at a premium, you spend a lot of time driving in town or you want to keep your motoring costs to a minimum, then a city car could be perfect for you.
Compact, characterful, fun-to-drive and keenly priced, the best city cars will put a smile on your face while rewarding you with low insurance bills, great fuel economy and simple maintenance.
City cars’ small engines use less fuel than bigger cars, and they generally mean fewer emissions and cheaper road tax, too. This should be of particular interest to younger drivers looking for a first car.
So, if you’re after something that’s easy to manoeuvre, affordable to buy, cheap to run and individually stylish, look no further. Here’s our pick of the best city cars available right now.
Best city cars
- Skoda Citigo
- Volkswagen Up
- SEAT Mii
- Hyundai i10
- Smart Fortwo
- Renault Twingo
- Kia Picanto
- Fiat 500
- Suzuki Ignis
- Toyota Aygo X
Best city car for value for money
Our pick: Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPi
Read our full Skoda Citigo review
Off sale since late 2022, but still widely available on the used market, the best Skoda Citigo models are those made after 2017. These come with a vastly improved interior and far better infotainment system, which features a smartphone holder to allow you to plug your device into the stereo.
The 1.0-litre petrol engine has enough zip for town driving, but is noisy on the motorway and not especially quick. The Skoda Citigo is often the better used choice over the Volkswagen Up and SEAT Mii simply because it’s generally a little cheaper.
Best city car for the feel of a bigger car
Our pick: Volkswagen Up Beats
Read our full Volkswagen Up review
The Volkswagen Up has been a phenomenal success and is the best-selling city car in the UK, but that’s hardly a surprise. Using the ingredients that made other Volkswagen models such a success, such as solid controls and premium interior fabrics, it feels mature and grown-up for a small car, while remaining fun to drive.
It’s quite lively, too, with a smooth ride in town and enough power on faster roads, as long as you avoid the slowest 1.0-litre engine with 61PS. The 91PS option is far better while the 117PS Volkswagen Up GTI is a real blast.
There’s space in the back for two adults, for short journeys at least, and the boot is acceptable enough. The best model to go for is the Volkswagen Up Beats, which has a vastly improved stereo that will pair with your smartphone and steering wheel controls.
Best city car for fashionable functionality
Our pick: SEAT Mii by Mango
Read our full SEAT Mii review
Otherwise, you get the same decent chassis, deceptively spacious interior and nippy city runabout characteristics. It’s as good a car as the other two, which means it’s very good indeed.
One of the more unusual variants is the SEAT Mii by Mango, developed in conjunction with the Spanish fashion group to offer premium specification and unique interior and exterior design themes. If you want a city car with an expressive personality and which feels a bit more special than just a means of transport, it’s well worth a look.
Best city car for peace of mind
Our pick: Hyundai i10 1.2 MPi Premium SE
Read our full Hyundai i10 review
With a five-year warranty that has no mileage limit, the Hyundai i10 comes with peace of mind as standard, making it a tempting choice even before you’ve tried it for size.
It feels well-made and is spacious inside. With the back seats folded down, you’ll have a 1046-litre luggage area that no other city car can match. Put them up and you’ve got three seatbelts, so you can fit in five – so long as nobody minds rubbing shoulders.
Neither of the two engines available feels especially sporty, but the smaller 1.0-litre motor has enough power in town, while the larger 1.2-litre engine is better if you’ll be driving your Hyundai i10 on the motorway. The Premium SE offers some unexpected luxuries, with features such as a heated steering wheel and heated seats.
Best city car for easy parking
Our pick: Smart EQ ForTwo
Read our full Smart Fortwo review
Not everyone needs more than two seats. And for those who can get by with just a pair, the benefit of driving a small car like the Smart ForTwo is that parking is a doddle. With the model recently out-of-production as the brand evolves into an all-electric manufacturer, used demand for Smart Fortwo models has shot up.
At half the length of an average car, Smart Fortwo drivers can laugh in the face of crowded city streets or busy car parks. If you spot a gap, no matter how small, the chances are the Smart Fortwo will fit into it. You also sit relatively high up, giving a commanding view of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers around you.
The boot is barely any bigger than a handbag, though, and the car’s short proportions mean that the ride is a bit bouncy – it’s not really a car you want to venture in outside of the city limits.
Best city car for driving fun and personalisation
Our pick: Renault Twingo SCe 90 Dynamique Energy
Read our full Renault Twingo review
Designed with a bit more style than your average city car, the Renault Twingo benefits from a short bonnet, because the engine isn’t underneath there – it’s fitted at the back of the car. This helps to make it more manoeuvrable than many other city cars.
It also makes the Renault Twingo reasonably spacious, although rear passengers will have to make do with windows that pop out rather than wind down, which isn’t ideal for anyone who suffers from travel sickness.
It never sold in great numbers, though, so finding one isn’t as easy as with most of the cars on this list. However, if you like to be different, then it’s a fantastic option. The 90PS models are pretty lively.
Best city car for a long warranty
Our pick: Kia Picanto 1.0 T GDi 2
Read our full Kia Picanto review
The latest Kia Picanto shares its mechanical parts with the Hyundai i10, which means that it offers a similarly spacious boot and interior, with rear seats that can accommodate adults in relative comfort - providing the journey isn’t too long.
It’s nimble in town and reasonably nippy, too. The 1.0-litre engine will happily zip along at motorway speeds, although you’ll need a little bit of patience to accelerate to 70mph.
The Kia Picanto is also the city car that offers the greatest peace of mind, thanks to its seven-year warranty that’s capped at 100,000 miles. It’s well-made and has a good reliability record, as you’d expect from a company prepared to offer such comprehensive cover.
Best city car for retro style
Our pick: Fiat 500 1.0 MHEV
Read our full Fiat 500 review
Say what you will about the Fiat 500 – it’s far from perfect – but you’ll struggle to find anything with more chic and a lower price. Despite the fact the oldest model is now getting on a bit, its delightful retro styling can still turn heads.
The longest gazes are likely to be in the direction of cars in the optimum specification: pastel shades, retro wheel designs and contrasting paint schemes all enhance the car’s style. With various ways to personalise the interior, you can elevate it to catwalk status, but watch out for the less tasteful combinations on the used market. All Fiat 500 models have two doors and it’s one of the few city cars available as a convertible.
Previously, there were two engines, a 1.2-litre and a 0.9 available in two power outputs. The 1.2 is cheaper while the 0.9 TwinPower has more thrust, but no better fuel economy in the real world – no matter what the official figures suggest. Later models come with a 1.0-litre mild hybrid option, which strikes a balance between fuel economy and performance.
Best city car for those who like to be different
Our pick: Suzuki Ignis SZ5
Read our full Suzuki Ignis review
The Suzuki Ignis is a car with plenty of quirks, not least its refreshingly oddball styling that proves the best city cars don’t need to resemble a box on wheels.
Its chunky styling has a hint of small SUV about it, with a modern and spacious cabin that’s well thought-out and has plenty of cubby spaces. It’s also a five-door with rear seats that will happily accommodate a couple of children in comfort, making it the perfect choice as a second car for the family.
The real gem, though, is the engine. Suzuki’s 1.2-litre DualJet unit has 83PS, which makes it livelier and more suited to motorway cruising than most of the cars on the list – perfect if you’re an urban dweller who likes to spend their weekends escaping from the city.
Best city car for SUV appeal
Our pick: Toyota Aygo X Edge
Read our Toyota reviews
The Toyota Aygo X is more of an urban mini-SUV and was introduced in mid-2023 to replace the Toyota Aygo. It’s one of the funkiest models on sale today and if you’re after a new car it’s an exceptional choice with many of the other best city cars having been recently discontinued ahead of electric-only replacements.
All models get Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto along with Toyota’s advanced Safety Sense package, but the mid-spec Edge model is the best in terms of specification and value for money.
Power comes from a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which is extremely economical, but also brimming with character, revving freely and sitting quite happily at the legal speed limit. It also comes with the back-up of a 100,000-mile, five-year warranty.