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Best Cars

Best City Cars for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 3 of 15

The best city cars are easy to park, reliable and cheap to run. We’ve rounded up our top new and used city cars, as well as three you should avoid.

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City cars may be the smallest cars on the road, but that shouldn’t stop them from being comfortable, practical and good to drive.

A Best Buy city car will be all of those things – but it will also be fuel-efficient, affordable to buy and run, and offer long-term reliability. And, of course, it’ll be a breeze to park on crowded city streets.

Not all city cars are made equal, however. Our testing has revealed three Don’t Buy city cars that simply don't deliver in terms of quality, comfort or safety, including a best-selling model. City cars are some of the cheapest on the road, but that doesn’t mean you need to put up with substandard build quality or a lack of basic safety equipment.

Below are the very best city cars we’ve tested - all bona fide Which? Best Buys that’ll make urban excursions a pleasure. Scroll down to see the three you should avoid.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access to our table and all of our online reviews by taking a £1 trial to Which?

Best new city cars

Price from £19,731
Brand score 80%
Reviewed Jan 2014
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Performance:
5 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This city slicker is surprisingly nippy to drive, and surprisingly easy, too - it has all the normal pedals, an automatic gear lever and regular instruments. There are some big differences, though - it's eerily quiet and acceleration is instantaneous. Just watch the limited range and long charge times.

Price from £7,362
Brand score 73%
Reviewed May 2012
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Performance:
2 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

With low-powered engines, this model can feel breathless on motorway journeys, but in town it really excels, thanks to its compact dimensions and nippy handling. Ride comfort is excellent for this type off car, too, and front passengers will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of room on offer.

Best used city cars

Price from £2,788
Brand score 75%
Reviewed Mar 2008
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

There's a good range of engine options on this city car and as long as you avoid the 1-litre you'll have the perfect way to jet around town.

Price from £5,314
Brand score 70%
Reviewed Jan 2011
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This diminutive city car costs next to nothing to run and is a doddle to drive. It won’t do well over long distances though.

Not found the car for you? Browse all of our city car reviews

And here are three city cars to avoid

Due to their small size, city cars are often some of the cheapest cars you can buy. Some low-cost models don’t feel like it, though; their interiors may be more basic than your average Audi or BMW, but they are comfortable, and some effort has gone into making the cabin a pleasant place to sit. 

Unfortunately, not all city cars are so well designed. We’ve tested small hatchback models that are light on features and light on comfort, with cheap plastics and drab interiors sapping the fun from your driving.

A small car means a small engine, which leaves some city cars feeling underpowered. High revs and a lot of gear changing is required to keep them up to speed, especially if you plan on taking them out on the motorway. The better city cars we’ve tested don’t have this problem, so you don’t need to settle for a feeble engine in your city car just because it’s small and designed for inner-city driving.

Our testing has identified some of the worst city cars available on the new and used market, so you know which ones to avoid and what to look out for when you’re buying. 

City cars to avoid

Price from £9,979
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Jul 2017
Don't buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
2 out of 5
Ride quality:
2 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

It might be spacious for its class, but feels downmarket. The poor safety performance of this car is of the most concern, though.

Price from £8,973
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Aug 2017
Don't buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
2 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

Don’t be suckered in by the price and space - in terms of safety, technology and fuel efficiency, it's well off the pace. One to avoid.

Price from £7,184
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Feb 2015
Don't buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
2 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

A sub £10,000 car is always tempting, but you should steer clear of this one. The three star Euro NCAP rating is this cars main downfall, but it’s not the only failing. The engines are weak and struggle to power the car despite its small size. It can be difficult to handle, too since there’s no feedback from the wheel and you’ll find yourself making many small steering adjustments.

Price from £2,739
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Mar 2009
Don't buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This model has a lot in common with another city car, but it’s not a favourable comparison since both of these cars are Don’t Buys. They have weak engines, poor brakes and they only got a three-star result in the Euro NCAP tests. The final nail in the coffin is that some models won’t have electronic stability control. It was only ever optional and the handling suffers without it.

Price from £2,819
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Jun 2009
Don't buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

It may be cheap, but its safety standards are lacking for a modern car and we've concerns about the braking distances, too. Avoid this model.

Price from £1,191
Brand score 45%
Reviewed May 2004
Don't buy
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

Low running costs, cheap purchase prices and its general driveability are appealing. However, its disappointing safety score means that we can't recommend it.

Price from £10,779
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Apr 2016
Don't buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
3 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This isn't the sharpest city car to drive, nor the most commodious or comfortable. Its fashionable charm and low running costs have proved very popular, but poor crash protection seals its fate as a Which? Don’t Buy.

Price from £799
Brand score 29%
Reviewed Jan 2005
Don't buy
Driving stability:
1 out of 5
Seat comfort:
2 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
2 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This nipper is looking increasingly out of date next to newer rivals. Safety and crash protection, for example, is particularly poor, with it being awarded just two stars, with serious reservations, in the Euro NCAP crash tests. It's a Which? Don't Buy model.

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