driving in the city

Best city cars in 2021

Last updated September 17, 2021

City cars provide great practicality when driving in urban areas due to their compact size and engines that are designed to effortlessly drive at lower speeds. However, in a competitive market, compact city cars can no longer just be practical. Instead, they have to be bold with their designs, have a generous amount of interior kit and be fun to drive.

We have picked the best city cars on sale in 2021 to help you determine your ideal next car. Our list is full of aesthetically pleasing cars that have a generous amount of standard equipment and offer good fuel economy when driving around busy towns and cities.

 

1. Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 has grown in popularity throughout the UK and has helped the South Korean brand get a foothold in the compact hatchback market. The latest version of the i10 doesn’t disappoint due to the surprising amount of interior space and a well-refined engine that copes very well with driving around the city.

The latest version of the car is only available as a five-door, which is far more practical than the previous three-door version and makes it one of the most accommodating superminis on the market. As well as offering excellent practicality for a car of its size, the interior quality has also improved due to its soft-touch materials, quirky patterns and top-end specs.

Hyundai i10 (2021) Engine Sizes

In terms of engines, the i10 isn’t available as a hybrid or fully electric vehicle, with three petrol engines to choose from instead. The entry-level engine is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that produces 66bhp, whilst the most powerful engine is a 1.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 99bhp.

Hyundai i10 (2021) Trim Options

There are four options on the Hyundai i10; SE, SE Connect, Premium and the sporty N Line. The SE 1.0 MPI 67ps manual is the cheapest option available, with an OTR price of £13,025 that makes it very competitively priced amongst the other superminis on the market. The highlights of the SE model are the 14” steel wheels, cruise control, electric adjustable heated door mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and a lane departure warning system with lane keep assist.

If you upgrade to the SE Connect trim, you will also get 15” alloy wheels, a rear-view camera, voice recognition, an 8” centre console display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and an additional two speakers in the rear of the car.

If the SE Connect still isn’t enough, you can upgrade to the Premium trim; which offers everything on the previous trims as well as 16” alloy wheels, a glossy black front grille, honeycomb design details, heated front seats, brass metal seat trim, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass on the rear windows and a heated steering wheel.

The top-level trim is the sporty N Line, which comes with 16” N Line alloy wheels, black exterior door handles, N Line front grille, badging and styling package, rear brake discs, leather steering wheel, black roof liner, sportier-looking seats and rear combination LED headlights.

If you are using the car solely for city driving, our choice would be the 1.0-litre MPI 67PS manual in the SE Connect trim. This spec has an OTR price of £14,025 and comes with a generous amount of equipment for the cost. It should also be nippy enough for driving in urban areas and be cheap to run with a reported combined 54MPG. Moreover, this spec is in insurance group 3E, which should hopefully reduce the running costs further.

To discover more about the Hyundai i10 or configure your car click here.

 

2. Volkswagen Up!

If you’re looking for a city car that offers an up-market feel, then the Volkswagen Up! could be a great option. It shares much of its parts with the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo (as they’re all part of the Volkswagen Group) but the Up! uses more soft-touch materials on the interior and there are optional styling packs available to make it even better.

The appeal of the Volkswagen Up! is its ability to comfortably seat four people, whilst allowing you to squeeze into small city-centre parking spots and look stylish while driving around town. As with the Hyundai i10, the latest version only comes as a 5-door, which makes it more practical than the previous version’s 3-door option, especially if you’re driving with kids or regularly have rear-seat passengers.

Volkswagen Up! (2021) Engine Sizes

All trims (except the GTI) are only available with a 1.0-litre 65ps engine and a 5-speed manual transmission, which can achieve a minimum combined 54.5MPG. If you are looking for a city car that feels more like a hot-hatch, you could opt for the GTI which has a 115ps petrol engine and reach 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Volkswagen Up! (2021) Trim Options

In terms of trims, there are six to choose from: Up!, Beats, White Edition, Black Edition, R-Line and GTI. The entry-level Up! trim is available from £13,660, whilst the range topping GTI starts from £17,190.

If you upgrade to the SE Connect trim, you will also get 15” alloy wheels, a rear-view camera, voice recognition, an 8” centre console display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and an additional two speakers in the rear of the car.

Volkswagen has recently released the e-Up!, which uses the same technology as the electric SEAT Mii and has a combined electric range of 159 miles, which is plenty if you’re only driving around the city. However, the electric version of the Up! Is more expensive than even the top-spec petrol version, with the OTR price starting at £23,555. Despite the higher price-tag, some of this could be offset by the reduction in fuel costs and not having to pay the ULEZ charge if you’re regularly travelling in London.

In terms of trims, the entry-level Up! comes with a 5” colour screen with Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone navigation interface, DAB radio, manual air conditioning and 15” alloy wheels as standard. If you go for the White/Black edition, you get upgraded 16” alloy wheels, contrast coloured door mirrors and a ‘cube’ dash pad.

The next leap is to the Beats trim, which adds Beats decals on the side skirts and a ‘Beats’ sound system, which equates to 6 speakers, a digital 8-channel amplifier, subwoofer and 300 W power output. Therefore, if you’re a music aficionado, this could be the trim that is the best option and it is very reasonably priced at just under £800 more than the base-spec model.

If you’re looking for a sporty-looking car without compromising on economy figures, the R-Line trim offers sporty refinement with 16” triangle black alloy wheels, sports suspension, front fog lights with cornering function and body-coloured door mirrors. However, if you do choose this trim you are going to feel more bumps than you would in the trims that come with the softened suspension and smaller wheels.

For the money, our choice of trim would be the 1.0-litre 65ps 5-speed manual in the Up! trim due to it costing a mere £13,660, being in one of the lowest insurance groups (2E), and still coming with an adequate range of features for a car in this price bracket.

You can see the full spec of each trim here

 

3. Kia Picanto

The facelifted Kia Picanto makes it onto our list of best city cars due to the generous amount of kit you get as standard, the spacious, well-made interior and the increase in space from its predecessor. As with all Kia’s, the Picanto benefits from a 7-year / 100,000 miles manufacturer’s warranty, so you don’t need to worry about anything going wrong for a while if you buy the car new.

Kia Picanto (2021) Engine Sizes

Since the facelift, the Picanto has been available with two engine options; the 1.0 DPi petrol engine that produces 66bhp and the more powerful 1.0 DPi petrol engine that produces 99bhp. Both engines are available with a five-speed manual gearbox, whilst the new five-speed automatic gearbox is only available on the 66bhp cars. Both engines are sufficient for city driving, but if you are going to venture out of the city the 99bhp engine should be more adept at higher speeds.

Kia Picanto (2021) Trim Options

Kia also has many options when it comes to trims, with seven versions to choose from. There is a base-spec ‘1’, followed by the ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘X-Line’, ‘X-Line S’, ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line S’.

The Picanto ‘1’ starts from £11,200 and comes with front electric windows, a 3.8” monochrome display, automatic headlights, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, hill-start assist and a brake assist system. Move up a spec to the ‘2’, which has an OTR price of £12,700, and you also get 14” alloy wheels, air conditioning, electronic & heated door mirrors, a 4.2” monochrome display, steering wheel-mounted controls, a leather steering wheel & gearshift and a more premium cloth interior. Finally, if you can justify the £14,200 OTR price, you can get the ‘3’ which gives you even more equipment including forward collision assist, 15” alloy wheels, LED indicators, an 8” touch screen, 6-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, cruise control, a reversing camera and front fog lights.

If you opt for the X-Line, prices start at £13,850, with the X-Line S starting from £15,250. The standard X-Line offers a good range of equipment with 16” alloys, refined bumpers, black faux leather upholstery, bi-function projection headlights, LED front and rear lights and rear privacy glass. If you upgrade to the X-Line S, you also get twin exhausts, wireless phone charging, rear parking sensors, keyless entry, heated front seats & steering wheel and automatic air conditioning.

Finally, the GT-Line is available from £13,850 and the GT-Line S is available from £16,000, making it the most expensive of the trims. The GT-Line is the option that looks sporty without compromising on the low cost of having a small and compact city car. The standard GT-Line comes with 16” alloy wheels, sport front & rear bumpers, an 8” touchscreen display, faux leather upholstery, LED lights and privacy glass. The GT-Line S comes with GT-Line 16” alloy wheels, forward collision assist, automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, heated front seats & steering wheel, keyless entry and cruise control.

Our pick of the trims and engines would be the 1.0-litre DPi (66bhp) ‘3’ which boasts a combined 57.6mpg, handles well in a city environment and comes with more standard equipment than most of the cars on our list.

You can explore the entire range on Kia’s website.

 

4. Toyota Aygo

Toyota’s smallest car has a striking look with bold creases, a pointy nose and eye-catching angles. The outgoing Aygo was one of the best-selling superminis in the UK due to its low running costs, affordable list price and reliability. The latest version of the Aygo should be just as popular, as it’s an improvement in almost every aspect.

The Aygo makes our list of the top city cars not only due to its unique look, but also due to the car handling well in tight spaces, the gearshifts being fairly smooth and the compact size making it easy to fit into tight spaces around the city. The car is only available as a five-door, with Toyota opting for practicality with the latest version.

Toyota Aygo (2021) Engine Size

When it comes to engine choice, the Aygo is only available with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that produces 72bhp. Both 5-speed manual and automatic gearboxes are available depending on your preference.

Toyota Aygo (2021) Trim Options

The Aygo range starts with the entry-level x-play trim which has an OTR value of £13,345 if you opt for a manual gearbox and £14,045. This trim doesn’t hold back on standard features with 15” steel alloys, pre-collision assistant, lane departure alert, LED daytime running lights, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatibility, air conditioning, stop & start technology, heated door mirrors, leather steering wheel and a touchscreen multimedia system.

By upgrading to the x-trend trim you get 15” machined-face alloy wheels, coloured side sills, automatic headlights, front fog lights, rear privacy glass and automatic air conditioning. This trim is available at £14,510 with a manual gearbox and £15,210 for the automatic.

Finally, the range-topping x-clusiv trim also gets 15” machined-face alloy wheels, a contrasting colour roof, black leather seats, automatic air conditioning, front fog lights, rear privacy glass and automatic headlights. The manual version will set you back £15,695, while the automatic has an OTR price of £16,395.

Our pick of the trims would be the entry-level x-play with a manual gearbox which is excellent as a first car or if you’re looking for a small car to drive around busy cities or towns. For the frugal driver, you won’t spend much time at the petrol station either, thanks to the manufacturer reporting the car can achieve a combined 57.6mpg. If the generous amount of standard equipment isn’t enough, you could opt for one of the higher trims if you can justify the cost.

You can explore more about the Aygo here.

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5. Peugeot 108

The Peugeot 108 shares some of its mechanicals with the Toyota Aygo, which means you get the same low running costs, reliability, good handling and smooth gear changes. The car also gets the iconic chic and elegant design we have become accustomed to with all Peugeot models. /p>

The car has been designed to maximise space, and although it still feels small if you’re used to a larger car, it isn’t too uncomfortable if you have to occasionally transport four adults, although you may want to consider a larger car if you’re doing this regularly.

Peugeot 108 (2021) Engine Size

As with some of the other cars on our list, the Peugeot 108 is only available in a single-engine choice, which is a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder that produces 72bhp. The car is also only available with a 5-speed manual transmission, so if you want an automatic city car, the 108 won’t satisfy your requirements.

Peugeot 108 (2021) Trim Options

When it comes to trims, Peugeot has also kept it simpler than some of the other cars we’ve listed with three options: the Active, Allure and Collection. The Active trim has an OTR price of £13,320 and comes with a very good amount of standard equipment. This includes a 7” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB socket, LED daytime running lights, manual air conditioning, steering wheel controls and DAB radio.

The Allure trim is for those who want a more sporty-looking car, whilst still benefiting from great fuel economy. In addition to the Active trim, the Allure comes with 15” ‘Thorren’ alloy wheels, electric & heated door mirrors, Peugeot Open & Go system, a reversing camera, leather steering wheel, black roof & door mirrors, front fog lights, automatic headlights and tinted rear windows. With an OTR price of £14,675, it is just over £1,300 more expensive than the Active trim—but you do get a lot more kit for your money.

The most expensive Collection trim is for those looking for a more vibrant and stylish looking city car, with an OTR price of £14,925. In addition to the Active trim features, the Collection comes with automatic air conditioning, electric & heated door mirrors, a reversing camera, interior ambiance lighting, collection carpet mats, coloured seating and stitching trims, front fog lights, automatic headlights, tinted rear windows and 15” ‘Thorren’ alloy wheels with Orange Maya centre wheel caps.

Our choice of trim would be the Allure, which is priced slightly below the Collection trim but gets almost the same level of kit. At £14,675 you get a lot of kit for your money and the car is a real head-turner with its 15” alloy wheels, piano black roof and silver grille. In addition, regardless of trim, the car will achieve combined consumption figures between 54.8 and 58.9MPG.

You can learn more about the Peugeot 108 and configure your own here.

 

6. Smart ForTwo

The Smart ForTwo is the ultimate car for squeezing into the smallest of parking spaces and is the only two-seater car to make it onto our list of the best city cars in 2021. The latest version of the Smart ForTwo has changed in many ways from its predecessor, not least because it is now only available as a fully electric vehicle.

The facelift model has got a lowered grille, which is much more in your face than the Smart ForTwo of old. The electric motor is nifty and smooth for driving around urban areas, and the 82bhp engine is plenty to power the car due to it being extremely light at just 1,100kg. In terms of range, you won’t be able to travel on any long journeys in the ForTwo as it can only reach a maximum of 84 miles on a full charge. This can reduce to 75 miles if you opt for an option with larger wheels. However, if you’re only using the car to travel short distances around the city, it can be economical, fun and extremely practical. In addition to the coupe version of the car, it’s also available as a cabriolet (or ‘Cabrio in Smart jargon). However, for the purpose of this guide, we will be focusing on the hardtop version of the car.

Smart ForTwo (2021) Trim Options

There are four trim levels available on the Smart ForTwo, from the entry-level ‘Premium’ to the top-spec ‘edition bluedawn’. The OTR price starts at £21,700 and goes up to £24,995, making it the most expensive city car on our list, which is due to the electric motors costing more than combustion engines and the generous amount of equipment as standard.

The base-level Premium trim is available from £21,700. It comes with 16” 5-twin-spoke design alloy wheels, halogen headlights, LED daytime driving lights, panoramic sunroof, leather steering wheel, stainless steel sports pedals, electric door mirrors, rearview camera, 3.5” digital instrument cluster, 8” touch screen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, two lower mid-range speakers, DAB radio, electronic handbrake, active brake assist, hill start assist and USB connectivity.

Moving up to the Exclusive spec will also get you 16” 8-Y-spoke design alloy wheels, front fog lights with cornering function, LED headlamps with integral indicators, rain/light sensor, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, matt chrome interior door handles, velour floor mats, black leather upholstery with double stitching and black fabric dashboard & centre panels. This trim is available from £20,350.

The BRABUS line gets you a lot of BRABUS styling options, including Monoblock XI design alloy wheels, sports pedals, hand brake with ‘BRABUS’ lettering, aluminium side sills, black velour floor mats, carbon-fibre look trim and black fabric upholstery with double-stitching in white. Upgrading to this trim will cost you £21,495—provided that you don’t spec any optional extras.

Finally, the top-spec ‘edition bluedawn’ will get you everything mentioned on the previous trims, plus some additional sporty-looking features. These include all the BRABUS line plus a front spoiler, larger air intake trim, gloss black mirror caps, radiator trim in black, rear diffuser in gloss black, black leather upholstery with grey double stitching and some additional BRABUS features specific to this edition. OTR prices start from £22,495.

Our pick would be the premium trim, which is available at just above £19,000 and offers a vast amount of equipment that is only available on the top-level trims from other manufacturers. Assuming you don’t drive many miles, you should be able to get a full day of city driving without needing to recharge the battery, plus you won’t have to pay to travel in any of the low emission zones.

For full details on trims and optional extras, visit the Smart website.

 

7. Fiat 500 Electric

The previous version of the Fiat 500 was hugely popular in the UK amongst those who wanted a small car with cheap running costs and a unique style. The facelift model has recently been released and has improved drastically when compared with its predecessor.

The latest version of the 500 Electric comes as both a hatchback and convertible, although we will be focusing solely on the hatchback version as the weather in the UK isn’t as well suited to a convertible car when compared with other European countries. The main difference is the updated and modernised body, which has a larger grille and more refined edges than the outgoing model. The interior has also seen a revamp which makes it much more modern and packed with new technology.

Fiat 500 Eclectic (2021) Engine

The other major difference compared to the outgoing model is that the new 500 is available as an electric vehicle, perfect for city driving where there is an ever-growing charging network and you are unlikely to exceed the maximum range in a day. There are two electric motors available, the lower-powered 23.8KHW battery which can travel between 159 city miles on a full charge. If you opt for the larger 42KHW battery option, you can expect to achieve between 430 and 460 city miles on a full charge depending on the trim level you choose. If you choose to drive at higher speeds, these figures drop considerably, but as the majority will use these cars for urban driving, we believe these figures will be the most useful.

Fiat 500 Electric (2021) Trim Options

Fiat has chosen to offer four trims for the 500 Electric, which they’ve named ‘Action’, ‘Passion’, ‘Icon’ and ‘La Prima’. The entry-level Action is priced at £23,495, Passion £26,995, Icon £28,495 and La Prima £30,495, which may seem high for a supermini, but it comes with a lot of equipment as standard.

Starting with the Action trim, you will get 15” steel wheels, 2x USB ports, air conditioning, electrically adjustable door mirrors, keyless go, a 7” digital instrument cluster, drowsiness detection, autonomous emergency braking, hill start assist, electronic parking brake, lane assist, LED daytime running lights & rear lights, rear parking sensors, EV mode selector, charging cables and fast charge capability (up to 50kW).

By choosing the Icon trim, you will get everything included with the other two trims, plus a 10.25” touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, 16” alloy wheels, a central console with storage, eco-leather steering wheel with audio controls, traffic sign information monitoring and passive entry with a wearable key.

The top-level trim will mean you are driving around the city with almost all of the comforts you can imagine. As well as what we’ve already mentioned, it comes with 17” alloy wheels, a rear-view parking camera, wireless phone charging, a 6-speaker sound system, auto high/low beam assist, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, blind-spot warning, electrochromic rear-view mirror and 360° parking sensors. The biggest selling point is the ‘autonomous driving L2’ package which provides adaptive cruise control, lane centring and can even accelerate and decelerate for you in stop-start city traffic.

Our choice of the trims would be the 42kW Passion which will give you a longer range than what is available on the Action, as well as much more kit for the additional cost. This means that if you do need to do the occasional longer trip, you won’t be stopping off multiple times to charge the car.

You can find out more about the Fiat 500 Electric here.

 

8. Citroen C1

Despite sharing some of its underpinnings with the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1, the C1 has a much cleaner and smoother exterior style. Despite this, the car isn’t dull by any means and it has a distinctive look you’d expect from the French brand.

The car is 3.46 meters in length, which makes it extremely nimble for squeezing into tight spaces around the city. The turning circle of 4.8 meters and electric power steering can help the car feel nimble, too. Despite it being small and practical, it can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children comfortably, or 4 adults at a squeeze. The boot is also big enough for your everyday needs at 196 litres and there are a few clever storage spaces in the cabin too.

Citroen C1 (2021) Engine Size

The only engine available on the C1 is the same 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that is used in the Toyota Aygo. However, unlike the Aygo, there is no automatic transmission option on the Citroen C1. When driving in urban areas the engine is more than sufficient, although the low power output can struggle if you’re regularly driving on motorways or high-speed A-roads.

Citroen C1 (2021) Trim Options

Citroen has kept it simple by only offering three trim levels, which are the Urban Ride, Shine and Shine Airscape. The OTR price ranges from £12,945 for the Urban Ride to £14,435 on the Shine Airscape, with the Shine being priced at £13,435.

The entry-level Urban Ride comes with a decent amount of equipment for a car in its price range including air conditioning, tinted rear windows, leather steering wheel, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, LED daytime running lights, 7” infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto and a leather gear lever.

By going for the Shine, you get all of the above plus a speed limiter, reversing camera, rev counter, chrome door mirrors, 15” ‘planet’ alloy wheels, chrome interior door handles and gloss black dashboard. The top-level Shine Airscape adds a black fabric roof.

Our pick of the trim levels would be the Shine model due to the reversing camera which is extremely useful for squeezing into small spaces and the improved interior which features a black gloss trim and chrome door handles. Unfortunately, none of the trims includes satellite navigation, active city braking or keyless entry, but all of these can be added as additional extras.

You can explore the C1 range here.

 

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*All information is correct as of the 11th August 2021