The best city cars are cheap to buy, cheap to run and perfect for a wide variety of drivers - whether you've just passed your test or simply want a small car that's easy to drive around town.
While city cars of old were a little one-dimensional, the best city cars today are just as good at longer motorway road trips as they are at urban journeys. Most have just as much safety kit as much bigger, more expensive cars, while you can now expect such luxuries as built-in navigation systems, parking cameras and cruise control.
All of the city cars in this list will be cheap to buy and exceptionally cheap to run - with petrol models capable of at least 50.0mpg when driving around town. We've also included a number of electric city cars, from the Citroen Ami urban quadricycle to the trendy Fiat 500 Electric.
If you're looking to save money on a new or used city car, check out our Best New and Used Car Deals.
Best City Cars 2024
1. Hyundai i10
Year launched: 2020
The latest Hyundai i10 is so good, we reckon it's one of the best city cars money can buy right now. It's actually quite large for a city car but it's got a smaller footprint than a Vauxhall Corsa, which warrants its inclusion here.
It's cheap to run, with a choice of 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines – both capable of around 45mpg in the real world. Most Hyundai i10 models will have a five-speed manual gearbox but Hyundai also offers an automatic version. It's actually an automated manual gearbox which isn't the slickest, but it does the job if you can't or won't change gears yourself.
It's an easy and comfortable car to drive while the interior gets the basics spot on. It feels surprisingly roomy for such a small car, with loads of elbow and shoulder room in the front. The boot can swallow up to 252 litres of luggage, too.
2. Volkswagen Up
Year launched: 2012
The Volkswagen Up (as well as its rebadged relatives, the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo) has been on sale for nearly a decade, yet it's still one of the best city cars on sale. It truly rocked the city car market when it arrived in 2012 – before the Up, city cars had been fairly miserable affairs that you only bought if you really couldn't afford anything better.
The Up is a genuinely brilliant small car, though. With wheel-at-each-corner packaging, you can actually squeeze four adults in the Up without too many complaints, and its mighty 1.0-litre engine ensures it won't come to a standstill as soon as you reach a steep hill.
It's both easy and fun to drive, and there's even an electric model. Capable of travelling up to 159 miles between charges, the Volkswagen e-Up's whizzy acceleration makes it a boon to drive around town.
3. Kia Picanto
Year launched: 2017
Just like the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Up, the Kia Picanto is such a competent all-rounder that you'll think twice about spending more on a bigger car. It's a doddle to drive, while its tiny petrol engines punch well above their weight.
Okay, the cheapest models are fairly basic, but if you splash the cash on a Picanto GT-Line S you'll get things like heated seats, faux leather upholstery and a wireless phone charger. Combine this with a seven-year warranty that's transferable to subsequent owners, and the Kia Picanto is a very appealing little car.
Kia Picanto prices start from around £11,000 but a budget of just £8000 will get you a three-year-old mid-spec model. As most city car buyers tend not to cover a lot of miles, it'll feel a lot like a new car, too.
4. Skoda Citigo-e iV
Year launched: 2020
How do you make one of our favourite city cars even better? By replacing its old-fashioned petrol engine with a battery and an electric motor.
That's what Skoda did with the Citigo-e iV in 2020. The popular city car - which is essentially a rebadged Volkswagen Up or SEAT Mii - features a 36.8kWh battery pack which provides a range of up to 161 miles. That's more than useable for scooting around town.
There is a caveat: you can no longer buy a new Skoda Citigo-e iV. Used ones are in high demand, too, which means you'll pay close to £20,000 for a two- or three-year-old example. On the bright side, it shouldn't lose a lot of money in your ownership, and think of the cash you'll save in fuel. And a used Skoda Citigo-e iV is a much more useable electric car than a Citroen Ami.
5. Toyota Aygo X
Year launched: 2022
We rate the old Toyota Aygo city car, but it's now been given a sprinkle of SUV design flourishes and been rebadged the Toyota Aygo X. It's bigger and more expensive than before but it retains a small footprint and low running costs, while we have little doubt it'll build on the brand's superb reliability record.
While the Aygo X is one of the more expensive city cars on paper, its standard equipment tally is really impressive. All versions get a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus adaptive cruise control and a huge suite of safety assist functions that are often optional on other city cars. It really doesn't feel like you're slumming it - the top version even gets an electric canvas roof to make the most of sunny weather.
The Toyota Aygo X is powered by a little 1.0-litre engine that isn't remotely powerful, but it is willing and loves to rev, making the Aygo X quite fun if you're willing to keep it on the boil. You can choose from a manual or CVT automatic gearbox (the former is more fun on the open road, the latter excels on city streets).
6. Suzuki Ignis
Year launched: 2017
If you want to stand out from the crowd, the Suzuki Ignis is a quirky little faux-SUV with retro looks and low running costs. Its upright stance gives you an excellent view of the road ahead, yet its footprint is barely any bigger than a Volkswagen Up – so parking's a piece of cake.
The only engine option is a 1.2-litre petrol motor, but look for one with SHVS badging and it gets mild-hybrid technology. This utilises a small battery to recuperate energy that's normally wasted under braking, before using an electric motor to provide a useful boost in performance without sacrificing fuel economy
Okay, the interior of the Ignis isn't as impressive as the latest Hyundai i10, but it's comfortable enough and you can even squeeze a pair of adults into the rear seats without too many complaints. Clever touches such as sliding rear seats also let you maximise the space on offer.
7. Fiat 500 Electric
Year launched: 2021
One of the most impressive selling points of the new Fiat 500 Electric is how much it costs. Prices start from around £28,000, which means it undercuts rivals like the Renault Zoe and MINI Electric. It doesn't feel basic, either, with standard equipment including cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and a 10.25-inch navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
You can save money by searching for a used Fiat 500 Electric on heycar, of course, with prices starting from around £21,500. Our money would go on a convertible version - meaning you can make the most of sunny days in the city.
8. Mazda MX-30
Year launched: 2020
The Mazda MX-30 is an ideal city car with compact dimensions and the added benefit of additional ride-height. It’s technically a small SUV, and with that comes an excellent driving position which is not only comfortable, but also affords you a great view of the world around you.
There’s a funky cabin inside made of a bunch of sustainable materials so it not only looks cool, but it’s kinder to the environment too. The 366-litre boot is a decent size, making the MX-30 a perfect car to pop to the shops in.
And the big plus here, the Mazda MX-30 is easy to drive around town, plus there’s enough pep in its step to inject a touch of fun into the daily commute. And if you want to extend the range of the fully electric model, you can opt for the MX-30 R-EV which also packs in a small petrol engine to keep you driving for longer.
9. Renault Zoe
Year launched: 2013
If you rarely drive long distances and want a car for scooting around town, why not consider an electric city car? You might think they're expensive or require compromise, but a day or two with a Renault Zoe is sure to change your mind.
For a start, it's so easy (and enjoyable) to drive. Hit the accelerator and you're off – no gears to bother with, while its silent running means you're sure to reach your destination feeling as zen as a yoga teacher.
Look for a 2019-onwards model and you'll get a 52kWh battery which provides an official range of 245 miles. If you only use your car for the school run or popping to the shops, you could go for a week without having to charge the Zoe.
10. Citroen Ami
Year launched: 2022
If you're happy to never leave the city limits, the Citroen Ami could be the ideal transport for you. It's a back-to-basics electric car with little in the way of thrills - or comfort, for that matter.
There are a few stats you need to know if you're seriously considering a Citroen Ami. It has a maximum speed of just 28mph and can travel up to 46 miles between a charge. But it'll cost pennies to run and is one of the cheapest new cars you can buy - with a retail price of less than £8000.
Measuring just 2410mm long and 1390mm wide, the Citroen Ami is an absolute joy to thread through narrow city streets or squeeze into spaces more drivers wouldn't even look at. One point of note is that the Citroen Ami is only available in left-hand drive, although it's so small (and you're unlikely to be doing much overtaking) that it's not really an issue. It also means you can exit the driver's seat on the pavement side when parked, too.
Best City Car FAQs
We reckon the best city car on sale in 2024 is a Kia Picanto or Hyundai i10. Both offer exceptionally good value for money, are great to drive in the city and are sold with a long warranty to put your mind at ease. Alternatively, we'd recommend an electric city car like the Renault Zoe, Fiat 500 Electric or Honda E.
If you're after a reliable city car, a used Toyota Aygo is a good choice. Toyota is a brand that's synonymous with reliability while, if you buy an Aygo that's been serviced at main dealers, the warranty can be extended for up to 10 years for free.
A used Hyundai i10 or Kia Picanto would be a great choice. Not only do older examples come with a long warranty, they also use very reliable torque-converter automatic gearboxes (rather than the frustrating automated manual transmissions used in many city cars). You won't find a better automatic city car.
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