Thankfully there is still a good range of small cars on offer.
It’s no secret that cars have gotten bigger over the years. Look at models from a few decades ago, and they’ll be noticeably smaller than their new equivalent today.
This has come from a mixture of things, such as buyers demanding more space, technology and safety from their cars. However, at the same time, the typical drive or parking space hasn’t gotten any larger, and if you live somewhere where outside space is limited, it can be a problem.
Thankfully there is still a good range of small cars on offer. Let’s take a look…
Volkswagen’s Up! city car has proven a popular choice for almost a decade, and it remains a fine option, particularly if you have a small driveway or parking space. Measuring just 3.54m in length and 1.91m (including mirrors) in width, it’s ideal. Yet, despite its small dimensions, the Up! still offers a decent amount of interior space while being pleasant to drive too.
Key to the Up!’s appeal is also the sheer choice of models, from affordable entry-level cars to the GTI hot hatch, which is an absolute hoot behind the wheel. There’s also the option of the electric e-Up! if you’re after an EV, with this bringing a respectable range of around 160 miles. Ene of the best small cars around right now, voted Best City Car by Auto Express. Available with either three or five doors, covering all angles from sleek to practical.
The undisputed champion of the ultra-small car class, the Smart Fortwo is a sensational option if you have a really small driveway. As its name suggests, it only has two seats, but if that doesn’t put you off, its dinky dimensions of 2.7m in length and 1.89m in width mean it can fit in just about any space or gap. Little wonder you often see these Smarts parked the opposite way in parallel parking spaces.
The Fortwo also offers a smart exterior design and feels quite upmarket inside, and is truly excellent around a town or city. The latest versions are also powered exclusively by electric and are limited by a real-world range of around 70 miles – but petrol versions were sold up until 2019.
Though Peugeot might have recently discontinued its 108 city car after numerous years in production, this small hatchback is still a very appealing choice, particularly for those that need a small car.
Seating four, the 108 measures just 3.48m in length and 1.88m in width, and is ideal if you have a small driveway. This Peugeot also comes with plenty of equipment as standard, while its small petrol engines are very frugal to run. It’s a particularly attractive choice for new drivers with its low insurance groups.
The Honda e isn’t your typical low-cost city car, but if you want something more high-end, it’s well worth a look. This EV offers a stunning array of technology, including digital side mirrors and an interior that comprises an impressive five screens.
It’s a seriously desirable choice, with its cool retro styling really helping it to stand out, while its rear-wheel-drive layout and zippy acceleration make it great fun to drive. Measuring 3.89m in length and just 1.75m in width, it’s a very appealing option for those with a small driveway.
Kia’s Picanto has been a big seller in the city car segment for some time, and the latest generation’s smart styling, well-equipped interior and good driving experience all make it a great choice.
Measuring just 1.86m in width, it’s ideal for those with a particularly narrow drive or space, but its 3.6m in length somehow squeezes in lots of room, with enough space for four adults at a push. With its efficient petrol engines and class-leading seven-year warranty (the balance of which will be offered on used examples), the Picanto is a small car that delivers in many areas.
A sibling car to the Volkswagen Up!, the SEAT Mii might not have sold in as high numbers as the VW, but it’s still a terrific choice. Arguably bringing a more stylish look, the Mii is good to drive and offers a surprising amount of interior space considering its small dimensions – 3.56m in length and 1.91m in width.
Launched in 2012, the Mii was available with a frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine, but in the last two years of production (2020 and 2021), it was purely sold as an EV, bringing an electric range of 161 miles.
Just because you’re buying a small car, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice on quality, as Audi’s A1 proves. Bringing the same upmarket interior and classy design as the brand’s larger models, the A1 is also very refined and holds its value impressively well.
Though it costs more to buy than many rivals, it still gets a long list of standard equipment as standard. It is slightly larger than other models on this list, but remains relatively compact – measuring 3.97m in length and 1.9m for width. This small car is perfect for city driving, air conditioning will keep you cool, no matter the state of the roads while lane departure warning, pedestrian and cyclist recognition and hill-hold assist keep you, your passengers and other road users safe
Another contender for most economical small car is the fully electric Peugeot e-208. Don’t be misled by its sporty and colourful good looks - the e-208 is a compact five-door car that can provide comfortable accessibility for up to five passengers and a driving experience that is every bit as engaging as the petrol version with 3 driving modes - Sport, Normal and Eco.
The height-adjustable driver’s seat, makes it even easier to see out of the expansive front windscreen. For an added touch of comfort, the front seats also come with a heated option. Looking beyond comfort, the Peugeot e-208 is one of the best small cars for convenient features, such as a 7-inch touchscreen to keep you connected to your phone and wireless changing in all but the most basic model. The easy-read dashboard increases your driving confidence, as should the Lane Positioning Assist, Active blind Spot Monitoring.
In the rear, you’ll find 2 isofix anchor points to easily equip car seats for a quick escape on family trips, to get full advantage of the 199-mile range, made even more enjoyable when you discover the free 6-month charging subscription that comes with every new e-208!