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Top 10 City Cars

By Sun Motors Published

City | advice | top 10 | Top 10 category guides

Top-10-city_3x2 MORE of us are choosing to live in cities, yet our appetite for cars continues - but cars with a difference.

City cars, more than any other, need great connectivity so that you don’t have to fiddle with your mobile phone to make calls or access information including parking space apps.

The trick is to buy as new as you can afford as you will then find more features because technology moves so quickly.

And because we want to spend our lives living, not parking, they have to be easy to slot into small spaces.

Here we list the Sun Motors Top 10 city cars. We've included our expert's ratings and reader ratings.

We also want to know which of these motors you think is the best. So get voting, and we'll print the results in Sun Motors in the coming weeks.

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible

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Search for and buy a used city car on sunmotors.co.uk

Audi A1

AudiA1620
Sun rating: 5/5
THE GOOD
  • Audi image, quality and looks
  • Low CO2 figures
  • Strong resale values, but don’t change too soon!
THE NOT SO GOOD
    • Not the most entertaining to drive
    • Diesel versions could be quieter

Read the full Audi A1 review


Small cars used to be cheap cars but these days there are mini-executive cars like Audi’s A1.

High sides give a feeling of strength and security and the cabin is as luxurious as bigger models.

Rear seat space is poor but the boot’s a good size.

Townies should get the 1.2 petrol, country drivers can enjoy the 1.4. The diesel 1.6 feels flat but the 2-litre’s a bit of a flyer.

Good fuel consumption and low CO2 emissions so low, or no, road tax too.

You need Sport trim to get Bluetooth. S-line looks great but is pricey and big wheels and low suspension mean very firm ride over any bumps/potholes.

Fat tyres mean lots of noise on some road surfaces.

Handling good/safe but Minis are even more fun to drive.

What to watch out for: Water leaks. Some power steering issues. Fuel pump problems. Diesel particulate filter clogging on cars that don’t get hot enough.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Audi A1 on sunmotors.co.uk


Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto
Sun rating: 5/5
THE GOOD
      • Smart looking
      • Good to drive
      • Well built – seven year transferable warranty
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Spare wheel not standard
      • Not strong on image

Read the full Kia Picanto review


The first generation (2004-2011) Kia Picanto looked like something even Noddy wouldn’t drive and had a radiator grille like a Hannibal Lecter restraint mask.

Gen II is a much better car in every way, even if you ignore that impressive seven year warranty. Three-door versions look sportier than fives.

Engines are 68bhp 1-litre three-cylinder petrol, fine for town, or punchier 83bhp 1.2 litre petrol for wider afield.

Good ride but scary body roll if cornering hard. Twitchy in motorway cross winds.

Needs proper servicing as loose/worn camshaft retaining bolt can trash engine. No spare wheel as standard.

Shares a lot of mechanical bits with the Hyundai i10.

Watch out for: Check for oil leaks. Corrosion can make the parking brake stick on.

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Search for and buy a used Kia Picanto on sunmotors.co.uk


Skoda Citigo

Skoda's new baby ... Citigo
Sun rating: 5/5
THE GOOD
      • Well priced
      • Good quality
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Not as handsome as Volkswagen’s Up
      • Name still has some negative effect

Read the full Skoda Citigo review


The Citigo looks and feels sensible and is well screwed together, but doesn’t look or feel as classy as the Volkswagen Up.

Good cabin. The boot is a reasonable size and you can fold the seats to boost carrying space.

The 1-litre 3-cylinder engine has 54bhp or 74bhp - the lower powered one is best for city use only.

GreenTech versions escape road tax thanks to CO2 emissions of just 95g/km but don’t expect the 68mpg the official lab test figures show.

The Citigo has enough zest if you escape the city now and again and venture further afield. A temporary spare wheel is an extra cost option.

SE is the best trim choice and adds air conditioning, electric front windows, remote central locking to the S model’s power steering and CD player with auxiliary input.

It’s effectively the same car as the Up and Seat Mii.

Watch out for: Some gearbox gremlins reported. Really doesn’t like speed bumps.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Skoda Citigo on sunmotors.co.uk


MINI

minininini.28.620x413
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
      • Instant style
      • Premium feel in small package
      • Kart-like handling
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • You can’t take many friends
      • Small boot

Read the full MINI Cooper review


If you put retro style and driving fun ahead of practicality then the new, bigger Mini, launched in 2001, could be your ideal city car.

The Mini is effectively only a two seater with rear seats for children or for bags as the boot is so small.

Generation II came in 2006 but only Sherlock Holmes would have noticed, and the third incarnation – under the metal it’s the new BMW 2-Series - has just hit the streets.

Early model Chrysler engines were gruff so go for the BMW/Peugeot ones, but ‘long’ gears for economy blunt performance. Cooper S models are for faster drivers.

Punchy new BMW 110bhp diesel engines were introduced in 2010. Some engines require pricey synthetic oil but don’t skimp. Run flat tyres are expensive and give a hard ride.

Watch out for: Some cars are not as reliable as you may expect; others do 75,000 miles without problems. Watch for clogged fuel injectors, leaking cylinder head gaskets, timing belt failures around 50,000 miles.

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Search for and buy a used Mini on sunmotors.co.uk


Renault Clio

renaultclio14.28.620x413
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
      • Tres chic
      • Easy to live with
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Beware dodgy paintwork

Read the full Renault Clio review


Generation III of the Renault Clio ran from 2005 to 2012 with a better equipped facelift model with a plusher interior coming mid-2009.

Post 2009 are the cars to go for. Better looking too.

For a small car the Clio feels deceptively spacious and comfortable on longer journeys but it is equally happy around town.

Despite the common image of French cars, reliability is above average.

Petrol 1.2 litre cars or diesel 1.5 versions make good buys, but have the exhaust gas recirculation valve checked on diesels and timing belts on petrols.

The spare wheel under the boot floor is vulnerable to theft. Renaultsport models may have been thrashed so need careful checking. Front suspension wear is common.

Watch out for: Worn door seals can let water into the cabin, especially on motorway trips. Some electrical problems with ignition coils and windows.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Renault Clio on sunmotors.co.uk


Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
      • Strong image so holds value
      • Feels like a bigger car
      • Not just a town car, can tackle longer hikes
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Fuel figures and C02 emissions not great
      • Looks are a bit Marmite

Read the full Fiat Panda review


Fiat makes the Panda more spacious for its length by making it taller but rear seat legroom is still marginal.

There’s great all-round visibility, comfy seats, lots of space for oddments. Power is 68bhp 1.2 or turbocharged 0.9 two-cylinder TwinAir with 85bhp, or turbo diesel 1.3 with 74bhp.

Best all-rounder is the vocal TwinAir petrol.

Best for the low mileage driver is the 1.2-litre petrol that attracts only £30 annual road tax.

Maximum economy comes from the rather rough turbo diesel.

A handy city drive button makes the power assisted steering super light. Handy for tight parking spots.

You can even get a 4x4 version.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Fiat Panda on sunmotors.co.uk


Toyota iQ

Hi iQ ... the cute and clever new Toyota
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
      • Original approach
      • Quality feel
      • Only a foot longer than a Smart
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Expensive to buy
      • No boot unless you fold down the back seat

Is this the thinking person’s city car?

The iQ is unusually wide, which means space for three adults and makes it feel like a full size car, at least until the back wheels encounter a speed bump.

But unless you squeeze the driver, four occupants is out of the question and the tiny boot is beaten only by a Smart for lack of space.

Yet the iQ is shorter than the original Mini - not today’s big Mini - only a foot longer than a Smart and can out turn a London taxi.

Power is from 67bhp 1-litre or better 98bhp 1.3 litre petrol engines.

If you think iQs are too expensive, there used to be a dolled-up Aston Martin version called the Cygnet that cost three times the price.

Watch out for: The 1-litre engine has same engine/clutch problems as the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107.

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Search for and buy a used Toyota iQ on sunmotors.co.uk


Hyundai i10

Facelift ... Hyundai's i10 gets an upgrade
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
      • Spacious inside
      • Well-made with classy finish
      • Good fuel economy
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Looks a little boxy
      • Engines take a while to get going
      • Interior dour in places

Read the full Hyundai i10 review


If value for money is your main concern the Hyundai i10 delivers on price. And standard equipment and its five-year warranty is beaten only by Kia with seven.

The smaller 65bhp 1-litre engine delivers a smoother drive than the 86bhp 1.2 litre but you need the bigger motor for motorway trips. General road noise is low.

The suspension is nice and taut for precise cornering but the steering feels disconnected from the action.

The i10’s styling is a bit of an acquired taste but the cabin is spacious and all versions have air-conditioning, an MP3 player socket and electric windows.

Watch out for: Clutch problems. Pre 2009 1.1 engines not as robust as later 1.2 ones. Hyundai claims to have fixed a fault with manual gearbox cars jumping out of fourth gear.

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Search for and buy a used Hyundai i10 on sunmotors.co.uk


Honda Jazz

HondaJazz.28.620x413
Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
      • Strong resale value
      • Impressive reliability
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Dull to drive
      • Pensioners’ car image

Read the full Honda Jazz review


By putting the fuel tank under the front seats Honda has made the Jazz almost unbelievably spacious. A clutch of students proved this on the original press launch - but it seats four or five normally.

Small cars should be fun, but the 89bhp 1.2 and 99bhp 1.4 litre petrol engines don’t feel very peppy and the steering is disconcertingly light and vague.

Honda struggles to set up its suspension for UK roads and the Jazz is no exception with a jittery ride.

Seven years is the Japanese scrappage date, so after that you risk failed wheel and manual gearbox bearings and the air conditioning packing up.

It is vital with continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearboxes that the special fluid is changed exactly as in the handbook.

What to look for: All electrics working, no unusual noises or graunches from the engine, gearbox or suspension.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Honda Jazz on sunmotors.co.uk


Fiat 500

50000.28.620x413
Sun rating: 3/5
THE GOOD
      • Boy, it’s cute
      • Good in a crash
      • Well priced and good second hand values
THE NOT SO GOOD
      • Not much fun to drive
      • Variable build quality

Read the full Fiat 500 review


Italian car maker Fiat has always been good at making small cars with panache - and the 500 is no exception.

Compared to the original Cinquecento it’s a big car, but in reality it’s a two-seater with kiddy seats and a very small boot.

1.2 petrol is the best bet, 0.9 litre TwinAir most the charismatic, 1.3 diesel gives strong performance but noisy.

Ride is pitchy so stay round town. Bluetooth voice activated phone and other connectivity.

Unless you splurge on an Abarth version (1.4 Turbo) performance is flat and handling middling.

Convertible versions add to the fun.

Watch out for: Dodgy electrics, wheel bearing failures, seat tipping mechanism fails, some dealers below par.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Fiat 500 on sunmotors.co.uk


Vote for your favourite

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible
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