If you live or work in a city, you’ll have specific requirements for a car to make life that little bit easier and more comfortable.
You’ll want a car that’s easy to park, yet fun to drive on the streets that can be busy at best, often narrow and always a challenge.
Take a look at Swansway Group’s choice of seven of cars that we think are perfectly suited to city living and commuting with the input of our resident Motoring Journalist John Swift!
The SEAT Mii has a charming name and adorable looks to go with it. At first glance, it might seem a bit small but take a look inside and you’ll discover it’s roomier than you think. With a low price tag and low running costs, this is a great car if you’re on a budget. You’ll also save on insurance costs as the entry level Mii has a group 1 rating, and even the top-of-the-range Mii Cosmopolitan has just a group 4 rating.
If you car share, you’ll find the Seat Mii one of the best city cars for adult passengers. For a small car, you get quite a bit of storage too. You’ve got a reasonably sized boot, but fold the back seats down and you’ll get a 951 litre load area – much more than other cars in its class.
It also has a five star Euro NCAP rating, giving you peace of mind that you’ll be as safe as possible if you should have a bump on the busy city streets.
John’s Verdict 9/10
Likes: VW underpinnings given a bit of Spanish flair in the styling department. Very good ride and handling by the standards of the class.
Dislikes: Small gap between it and rivals such as Hyundai i10. Smaller engine not the best around.
The Citroën C1 is the smallest and the lightest car in the Citroën family, making it well suited to city life. The C1 is well known for great handling around town and strong acceleration. Pick the Flair model and you’ll also get a reversing camera, great for those tricky parking spots!
If you want to stand out from the crowd, or simply want a car that you can find easily in the car park, then you’ll be pleased to discover a massive range of contrasting colour options with the C1. It really is a great looking small car.
With lower emissions than some cars, road tax is relatively low (£120 in the first year for the 1.0VTi 68 EU6 Touch, for example, compared to £140 for the Skoda Citigo 1.0 60 EU6 S and Kia Picanto Hatch 5Dr 1.0 66 EU6 1). Insurance should also be reasonable with models ranging from group 6 to group 13. A lot of small city cars tend to have a cutesy look about them. If this is something you’re trying to avoid then do check out the C1, its styling is more cool than cute!
John’s Verdict 8/10
Likes: `Friendly face’ styling, buzzy and fun car to drive, usually scores well in reliability and affordability surveys.
Dislikes: Falls behind others a little in refinement on the road.
The diminutive Fiat 500 is tailor made for city driving. It’s very popular, especially with young trendy drivers as the retro styling is truly iconic. Other than the looks, one of the main selling points of the Fiat 500 is just how easy it is to park. There’s something very satisfying about nipping into a small parking spot that everyone else is having to drive by!
The handling of the 500 has been specifically designed for the ins and out of city driving and it works well. You won’t get a ton of capacity in the Fiat 500, that’s not what it’s all about, but you do get a boot with enough room for at least a few bags of shopping and your work laptop, and the rear seats provide adequate passenger space for shorter journeys.
John’s Verdict 10/10
Likes: The looks, the vibrant interior, loads of choice, cracking engines, good residuals make it cheap to run. My favourite in this class.
Dislikes: Absolutely nothing, not one nut or bolt or millimetre of it.
You can probably tell by the quirky name, that the Volkswagen up! is going to be a fun drive, but it’s also very practical. It’s a small car, but not as small as some other city cars so you won’t feel cramped in the up! While there isn’t a huge amount of boot space, there’s still plenty of room for the kids… and all of their gadgets and gear!
If you mostly drive in the city, but you also get further afield now and again, then the VW up! is likely to suit you well as it’s pretty versatile. It has a tight turning circle, making it ideal for negotiating the city traffic. It’s also easy to park.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of the up! is the fuel economy – making it a wise choice if you’re looking for a new car with low running costs.
John’s Verdict 9/10
Likes: Classy interior, 1.0 litre turbo engine, rock solid second hand value.
Dislikes: Toyota, Ford and others may argue otherwise but this is probably the car others in the market are measured against.
If you need a decent sized boot for work equipment or your leisure kit, or if you’ve got kids you need to taxi around, then you’ll need a car that’s practically sized, but still well suited to city driving. The Peugeot 208 fits this bill well.
Unlike many other city cars, you’ll actually get a decent amount of luggage in the boot, reasonable headroom and while the rear seats might be a bit cosy for a couple of adults, space is more than ample for two or three kids.
Due to its sporty looks, the 208 is deceptive – it provides bigger car presence while being compact enough to cope with that awkward city centre parking. It’s also particularly economical when it comes to driving in the city, and with low emissions you won’t be stung for a huge amount of road tax either – a new Peugeot 208 1.6L BlueHDi Active 75, for example, will cost just £100 to tax in its first year.
John’s Verdict 9/10
Likes: Big car look and feel inside and out. Top quality ride, agile handling, good spec on most versions.
Dislikes: In a hugely competitive market the 208 perhaps doesn’t stand out in any particular area, where others like Ford Fiesta do.
The stylish DS 3 handles well in a city environment. Add to this some great looks and you’ve got a real contender for one of the best city cars around at the moment. If you want to look and feel cool on the city streets, you can opt for the two door soft top Cabrio, alternatively, go for the 3 door hatchback and you’ll get more boot space.
Fuel economy is good across all models, but to keep your insurance costs low then avoid the larger engines. If you like to renew your car regularly, you’ll be pleased to hear that the DS 3 is a popular second hand car and so it shouldn’t depreciate too badly.
The DS 3 is a great drive with interesting styling and a decent level of ride comfort too. If you’re not familiar with the DS 3 it’s certainly worth checking it out as it stands up well against its rivals. If you like a car that’s a little bit different from others on the road, then keep an eye out for the limited edition models that DS release regularly.
John’s Verdict 10/10
Likes: Wow, a Citroen base transformed into something really special in either sports or luxury form. DS is one of the big surprises in the car industry. In any of its cars.
If image is everything when it comes to your new city car, then you may want to take a look at the Audi A1. It’s certainly not the cheapest of our best city cars, but you’re getting a great looking vehicle that’s as impressive inside as out. You should however, eventually recoup some of your initial costs due to the highly efficient engines and the resulting high levels of fuel economy.
If you often get stuck in the rush hour traffic, at least you’ll be able to pass the time in comfort in the A1 with a great infotainment system and comfortable seats. You also get some generous leg room in the front.
The back seats fold flat to give you a pretty reasonable 920 litres of boot space, and it’s no surprise that the solidly built Audi A1 has received a 5 star NCAP rating. One of the great things about the A1 is its width, compared to other cars in this class it’s fairly narrow. This can make a world of difference when you’re parking in a tight multi-storey car park or squeezing down a side street.
John’s Verdict 8/10
Likes: Audi badge and image in the small car sector. What’s not to like?
Dislikes: Perhaps the price?
John’s Choice: Nothing else here comes close, it’s the Fiat 500.
Which of the Best City Cars is Right for You?
When it comes to city cars there’s plenty of choice at Swansway Group dealerships. Whether extra boot space is important, high fuel economy, or ease of parking, there’s a city car for you. Of course it can be tricky to make up your mind, so why not call in to your nearest Swansway dealership and have a look around? Or give us a call and we’ll do all we can to help you find your perfect city car.