Best city cars for 2020
By Daljinder Nagra
Article 4 of 16
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.
City cars might 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 will be a breeze to park on crowded city streets.
Not all city cars are made equal, however. Our testing has revealed Don’t Buy city cars that simply don't deliver in terms of quality, comfort or safety, including a bestselling model.
City cars are some of the cheapest on the road, but that doesn’t mean you should 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 will make urban excursions a pleasure. And scroll down further 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 best city cars and all of our online reviews by joining Which?.
The best new city cars
The ideal city cars are nippy and easy to drive around town, with great fuel economy and reliability. Our experts have selected the very best models from our rigorous lab tests to show in the table below.
Best new city cars
This dinky city car puts fun and style first and foremost, but doesn't compromise on the essentials. It's also got the benefit of a retractable convertible roof. It can obscure the view to the rear when it's down, but that's not enough to harm its credentials as a solid urban runabout.
Small, easy to drive and economical - this city car gets nearly all the basics right. Back seat passengers may moan about a lack of space, and it gets quite noisy at speed, but around town it's nippy and fun. It won't break the bank to own and run, either.
The best used city cars
Looking for a bargain? Find the perfect used city car for you from the top-performing models in our comprehensive tests.
Best used city cars
It offers the simple controls and safe handling you’d expect from a Best Buy city car. Plus it’s also backed up by the manufacturer’s exemplary reliability rating, as revealed by our annual survey of car owners. It’s one of the easier city cars to get in and out of, too.
It’s tiny and reasonably spacious for two, making it a great urban runabout. Its manoeuvrability and ease of parking will take the stress out of even the most horrendous city journeys. It’s not much fun to drive on the open road, though, and equipment levels are stingy.
It won't be everyone's cup of tea, and with a lack of power it can struggle beyond the city limits. However, around town this little hatchback has the assets you need: nippy handling, tiny dimensions and reasonable fuel economy. It's got a great sense of fun, too.
This affordable model may be cheap but it certainly isn't nasty. Its low price belies its roomy cabin, eye-catching styling and the security of its long manufacturer warranty. It's got a small boot and isn't the most fuel economical city car we've tested, but that's not enough for it to be overlooked.
Not found the car for you? Browse all of our city car reviews.
And here are the city cars to avoid
Due to their small size, city cars are often some of the cheapest cars you can buy. However, while their interiors won't rival that of your average Audi or BMW, most are comfortable, and some effort has usually gone into making the cabin a pleasant place to sit. You shouldn't need to go without essential kit such as air conditioning, either.
Unfortunately, not all city cars are so well designed. We’ve tested small hatchback models that are light on both features and 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 are 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.
Most critical, however, is safety. To save costs, some manufacturers don't fit their city cars with the latest active safety technology. Any car that scores particularly poorly for safety, or scores three stars or less in its Euro NCAP crash test, is automatically rendered a Don't Buy.
Here are three models you should avoid.
City cars to avoid
This city car should be the brand’s best yet. It’s decent to drive, has a well-built interior and is backed by a generous warranty. Unfortunately, key active safety equipment is only available as an option on entry-level models – these versions don’t have AEB so won’t automatically mitigate a collision should it detect one about to occur. We don’t think safety should be optional, so it’s been given a Don’t Buy rating due to its Euro NCAP score.
A tiny driving range is just one of this electric city car's shortcomings. It's got a tiny boot and the ride is overly-firm. Not what you want from a car designed to take on the city streets. Lively performance and potentially very cheap running costs are not enough to redeem it. One to avoid.
We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else
Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations and, because Which? is independent and doesn’t accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.
Every car we review is subjected to more than 300 individual tests in a lab, on a test track and on real roads – and we really clock up the distance, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.
Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better, and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs.
And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the annual Which? Car Survey, and use it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.
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