Top 10 best city cars 2021

It rides absorbently if a little noisily and firmly on range-topping 16in wheels, but is surprisingly well-equipped (not least with active safety kit) and its 82bhp atmospheric four-cylinder engine (now something of a rarity in cars of this size) lends it decent drivability and useful real-world performance. Highly likeable. Admittedly, its 66bhp 1.0-litre engine does feel a bit weedy at times, but the larger 1.2-litre four-pot is a far more willing workhorse; and at the top of the engine range, meanwhile, the car’s 1.0-litre turbocharged three-pot engine is a trump card that not even the related Hyundai can play. It even scores fairly well on the ride and handling front, with the Picanto dealing with the scarred British roads better than some. A quirky contender in this rather congested segment, the Ignis is a zesty little car blessed with charm, value, space, versatility and fuel-efficiency.

As with its cousins from Seat and Skoda, the Up is also available in all-electric guise. The Up may be the smallest car on offer in the Volkswagen range, but it doesn’t miss out on all the hallmarks that the marque is renowned for. Travel at pace on undulating roads and its additional mass does makes itself felt, though.

Performance is relatively strong, with Suzuki’s clever 12v mild hybrid system adding torque just where an atmospheric engine needs it, and handling is fairly perky; although the car’s ride can feel a little bit crude over bigger bumps. Interior quality and general desirability have increased significantly, as has practicality (this is now one of the most accommodating cars in its class) while its sharp new exterior lends it an additional dollop of style appeal. Performance is punchy enough courtesy of its instantaneous torque, while its soft-edged ride makes it a comfy city car. Just like its cousin, the Hyundai i10, the Kia Picanto has grown up significantly since it first graced our roads.

If you like what you see, by all means pick the Kia. Third-generation city car returns to a class many are deserting. Speaking of, with its punchy 113bhp turbocharged three-pot under the bonnet and endearing handling, this sportier strain of city car has a strong claim for not only being the driver’s choice in the segment, although it’s pricier too..

It is possible to spec the Ignis with Suzuki’s AllGrip all-wheel-drive system, meaning this little car will go further off-road than many of its rivals. That said, a recent rationalisation of its engine line-up means it’s no longer our go-to pick of the segment.

Top 10 best city cars 2021


p>Top 10 city cars 2020 No longer is the Citigo the cheapest member of the Volkswagen Group triumvirate. As far as its petrol engines are concerned the slightly gutless 59bhp three-pot that we always felt was the weakest performer in the range is now the only combustion engine available – save that in the go-faster Up GTI, which is a slightly different kettle of fish. The fact that it looks more like a crossover than some of its contemporaries do, meanwhile, can do it no harm with market tastes being as they are.

Can it make a case for itself? Were it not for the sharp increase in price that accompanied its switch to electrification (the cheapest model is now just under £17k), the Skoda would sit closer to the top of this list; as it is, even though it’s about the cheapest ‘proper’ EV you can buy, that price will be the biggest obstacle to its ownership. The days of the cramped, sparsely kitted-out, cheap runabout are long gone, and while the class isn’t populated by quite as many brands as it once was, those manufacturers who have stayed have, between them, driven up standards across the board. But while battery power suits the dinky city car well, its elevated price doesn’t make it as accessible as you might think a city car should be (although the e-Up is cheaper than it used to be, it’s still a £20k car). The first- and second-generation versions helped to bring considerable UK success to the South Korean brand – a trend that this new one should only accelerate.

That, added to the rest of the car’s appeal, makes for a surprisingly compelling and characterful package. The car’s on-road dynamics aren’t as sharp or refined as some rivals. It is brilliantly packaged, with a massive amount of interior space for its size. Our list of the top ten best city cars is stuffed with perky little cars designed to be surprisingly practical and good around town, but mixes those traits with appealing designs, quirky colour choices and generous standard equipment levels. This smallest of Skodas is now exclusively available as an electric vehicle, and calls on a 36.8kW battery to provide it with up to 170 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle; which turns out to be more like 120 miles in mixed real-world use.

In fact, there’s little that separates the Picanto from the i10 save their looks, equipment, that engine, and the fact the Kia’s boot is slightly smaller. In some cases, they even outdo some of their bigger supermini counterparts by being fun to drive when the occasion allows. The interior looks a little bit flimsy and low-rent in places, and Suzuki’s touchscreen infotainment system leaves a bit to be desired; but if you don’t mind if cheap cars look and feel like they’re a bit cheap in places, as long as they’re still fairly hard-wearing, chances are you won’t care. It may not be revolutionary in the segment, but the Up beats its closest rivals on finish and outright desirability. Hyundai’s diminutive i10 city car has gone from strength to strength to strength.

Nevertheless, this remains a well-made, refined, usable and – thanks to its electric motor – cheap-to-run city car. Electrification suits this new Citigo-e iV incredibly well, actually. The latest car is certainly better looking than its predecessors, but is also finished better inside and gains a decent level of standard equipment. City cars are getting better all the time.

It might not have the star appeal of the VW Up GTI models behind it, but as a well-rounded, sensible, well-equipped city car it takes pride of place at the top of the class.

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