The best city cars 2022

  • Parkers' pick of the best city cars
  • Cut your running costs with style
  • Practical and parking friendly

City cars are brilliant. The smallest ‘proper’ cars you can buy, they’re usually less than four metres long and they suit urban living beautifully. They tend to suit a number of drivers in other environments too—newly qualified drivers, those tightening the purse strings and others who love to nip about and in and out of parking bays without hassle.

City cars have smaller engines with comparatively dinky running costs. It’s not always a positive – while some of these cars can be very practical for their size, they really aren’t suitable for more than two adults for anything longer than a trip to the shops. Only a scant few will accommodate four six-foot adults without being an uncomfortable squeeze.

In the past opting for a car this small meant sacrificing equipment, refinement, safety and driving pleasure. Fortunately, the latest crop of city cars can be incredibly accomplished all-rounders, which maximise space and even offer sufficient comfort to cover mileage on the motorways.

We’ve chosen our favourites below – click on the links to jump straight to the individual car or read on for some more buying advice.

The best city cars for 2022

1. Volkswagen Up

2. Citroen C1

3. Hyundai i10

4. Suzuki Ignis

5. Fiat 500

6. Toyota Aygo

7. Kia Picanto

8. Peugeot 108

1. Volkswagen Up 

VW’s smallest model is one of its finest

Volkswagen Up

Launched back in 2012, a decade later, the timeless brilliance of the VW Up’s original design shines on. It’s boxy shape and wheel-at-each-corner stance gives it a practical and fun character reminding us of the classic Mini.

With room enough for four adults, a surprisingly deep boot and refined build quality, it’s a great package. There’s a choice of two petrol engines; a non-turbocharged, albeit efficient unit that’s a bit slow, or a turbocharged GTI model that’s amazing fun. There’s also an all-electric e-Up too for green smarts. 

New price: from £12,705
Leasing price: from £220 per month
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2. Citroen C1

Better quality build than ever before

Citroen C1

Where the VW Up is serious fun, the Citroen C1 brings a sense of quirky fun to the table. The distinct styling of the C1 sets it apart from the crowd. While the basic spec trim is a bit paltry in comparison to its peers on this list, with applied options, the C1 becomes another creature altogether.

A tidy, more impressive interior than previous years, there’s a spaciousness for passengers not found in the boot. Though the engine can get a bit noisy at higher speeds, it’s jolly good fun to whizz about town.

New price: from £12,945
Leasing price: from per month
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3. Hyundai i10 

Practical, spacious and packed with quality touches

Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 is a car that tends to defy logic. By definition, city cars should be two-seaters with room at the back for small people or big ones, at a squash for short journeys. Carrying sufficient space four six-foot adults to ride comfortably, the interior is a practical, tech-laden (if you spec it so) affair.

Generously throwing in reliable autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning safety systems as standard, the i10 features a full range of three engines, including a ‘hot’ model— though we’d steer well clear of the automatic gearbox if we were you.

New price: from £13,420 
Leasing price: from £190 per month
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4. Suzuki Ignis 

The smallest SUV on sale? Baby Ignis is bags of fun

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki’s never been a brand that slavishly follows trends. The Ignis is unashamed of what it is – a cheap, lightweight and efficient car. Having tested an Ignis exhaustively, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed its no-nonsense charm.

Spacious, it’s pretty fun to drive and incredibly efficient if you drive it carefully. While it lacks the polish and safety features of some of its peers, its ace-card is the a mild-hybrid engine and four-wheel drive option, which is a rarity in this segment.

New price: from £14,759
Leasing price: from £229 per month
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5. Fiat 500

Retro pizzazz proves popular and punchy choice

Fiat 500

The funky, cheerful styling of the modern Fiat 500 is as popular as ever and it’s easy to see why. The 500 is a bold choice, with nippy engines that are also economical—using mild hybrid technology if you wish. Interior drawbacks aside, the dealbreaker is going to affect taller drivers first, who will likely find it cramped.

Still, if the awkward seating position doesn’t phase you, the low running costs will keep you pootling about the city in style. The electric version is award-winning, so that’s cool too.

New price: from £14,005
Leasing price: from £267 per month
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6. Toyota Aygo

Sporty style with an array of comfort and tech

Toyota Aygo

Sharing mechanical architecture with the Citroen C1 (above) and the Peugeot 108 (below), the Toyota Aygo carries the hallmarks of quality, fuel efficiency and reliability from the Japanese brand. The Aygo is a bit more sporty in its styling; appealing to younger drivers.

With a well-laid-out cabin and room enough for adults and luggage, the Aygo’s standard provisions includes electric front windows, charging ports, a reversing camera and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. With little compromise on comfort, the Aygo’s as good out of the city as it is in and about. Though if an SUV appeals, 2022 marks the launch of the Aygo SUV.

New price: from £13,920
Leasing price: from per month
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7. Kia Picanto 

Classy and spacious, with an amazing seven-year warranty

Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto is what you might call a ‘grown-up’ small car – since launch it’s always offered a fully trimmed interior and five-door practicality. The 1.0-litre turbo available on top-spec cars has a sportiness to match the sporty exterior. Though the same can’t quite be said of the lower-powered base engine, all Picantos are nippy enough around town and corner well.

Top-end kit such as proper climate control, a sunroof and 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included on the higher trim levels, making the Picanto feel like a bigger car that’s been shrunken down.

New price: from £11,450
Leasing price: from per month
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8. Peugeot 108

Budget-friendly running costs for big city living

Peugeot 108

Built on the same platform as the Citroen C1 and the Toyota Aygo, the Peugeot 108 shares their diminutive dimensions and big character appeal. Lightweight, the 108 has only petrol options, including a punchy 1.2-litre engine pushing less than 99g/km CO2 and helping avoid ULEZ charges.

A deep boot and front passenger leg and headroom detract away from a more compact rear seat experience. The kit in the cabin is pretty impressive too, with a reversing camera and Bluetooth. Neat and easy to manoeuvre with its tight turning circle, the 108 is a super practical package.

New price: from £13,355
Leasing price: from per month
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Why buy a city car?

The most popular and best-selling cars in the UK belong to the supermini class – models such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208. As great as these cars are, it’s possible and in some cases desirable to opt for something even smaller. And this is where the city car comes in.

City cars are typically a significant step down in size from a supermini – a typical example such as a Toyota Aygo is less than 3.5 metres long, where a typical supermini such as a Ford Fiesta will be just over 4.0 metres long.

This miniaturisation applies to everything, and city cars will have smaller engines with comparatively dinky running costs.

It’s not always a positive – while some of these cars can be very practical for their size, they really aren’t suitable for more than two adults for anything longer than a trip to the shops. Only a scant few will accommodate four six-foot adults without being an uncomfortable squeeze.

Clearly then, city cars are best suited to lighter-weight duties than being a fully-fledged family bus. They make brilliant second cars – perfect for quick trips around the city, top-up shops or school runs while the larger car waits patiently for the weekend.

They’re also very popular as cars for new drivers, who appreciate their low running costs, small size and ease of manoeuvrability. Conversely, older drivers and empty-nesters may find downsizing an attractive proposition.

Petrol vs electric city cars

We’ve left diesel out of this simply because there’s not a single diesel city car on the market in the UK today. Instead, buyers can choose between a majority of petrol-powered vehicles, or a few electric models.

>> The best cheap electric cars

Both have their merits, however petrol still commands the lion’s share of interest due to its simplicity and cheapness.

Fiat 500 Electric

That doesn’t mean you ought to discount an electric city car altogether, though. Their purchase prices do tend to be higher than the equivalent petrol, but once bought their running costs are minimal – topping up their batteries overnight on an off-peak tariff is far cheaper than fuelling even the most efficient petrol city car.

Electric models are also fantastic fun to drive, and their lack of a transmission makes them ideal for schlepping around inner-city traffic jams. Most petrol city cars have manual gearboxes, with automatics being a pricey – and often fairly poor – optional extra.

Buying a used city car

Our list concentrates on new models, but almost every car here has been on sale long enough to gather a decent number of examples on the used market.

Shopping for a used city car is a bit different from, say, a family saloon, and there are a few things you need to extra vigilant in catching.

First of all, make sure equipment levels are as you need. Their position at the bottom of the market means many city cars do without features we consider commonplace on larger cars. You’re very likely to find cheaper examples don’t come standard with features such as air-conditioning, central locking or electric windows.

That tallies with their safety kit, too, and while most city cars are physically quite safe in a crash – with strong bodies and plenty of airbags – they lack the active accident protection features of larger cars, such as autonomous emergency braking.

You also need to look out for signs of a hard life in the city. Parking dings, kerbed wheels and premature clutch wear are part and parcel of a used city car that the previous owner’s been careless with – proceed with caution

Read more:

>> The best small cars to buy

>> Parkers First Car of the Year award

>> Renault Clio review