Smallest cars to buy
Looking for the smallest cars on sale in the UK right now? Read on for our rundown of the tiny cars that should be on your shortlist.
When it comes to driving in congested cities, compact is king. Small cars can help you navigate traffic-laden streets and allow you to squeeze into the narrowest or trickiest parking spaces. They’re also some of the most economical cars you can buy, helping to keep running costs to a minimum.
The original Smart ForTwo was one of the UK’s smallest cars and much was made of its ability to park at right angles to the kerb – it was as long as most other cars were wide. Today’s buyers want more interior space, so while the new electric EQ ForTwo retains its short length, it’s now a little wider, and so are most of its contemporaries – but as all other cars have become so much larger recently, the cars on this list are still remarkably tiny.
Read on to discover the smallest cars for sale in the UK right now.
At just 2,338mm long, the Renault Twizy is the tiniest car on our list by some distance. It’s also the narrowest, thanks to a seating arrangement that means you sit one behind the other. It’s a quirky, all-electric car that’s certainly eye-catching, but with no side windows or doors fitted as standard and a spartan interior, it’s little more practical than a scooter.
At least the interior is easy to wipe down, but unless you’re driving it in the warmest of weather, you’ll need to wrap up. For the majority of us, the other cars on this list will be of more use, more of the time.
Think of the smallest car in the UK and the Smart ForTwo is likely to spring to mind. The model was originally launched in 1998 and, in its current guise, is an electric-only city car. Although it’s slightly larger than the original, it’s still so tiny that you’ll wonder how Smart managed it. Measuring 2,695mm from nose to tail, the EQ ForTwo is just about short enough to pull off its perpendicular parking trick.
As its name suggests, the Smart EQ ForTwo has seating for two (the EQ ForFour, listed below, has, you guessed it, four seats, and is bigger as a result), and a remarkably large boot. In fact, it’s almost as big as a Ford Fiesta, with up to 340 litres on offer if you load to the roof. It’s great to drive around town, and a clever crosswind assistant means it’s unaffected by winds when driving at speed. As an electric car with zero emissions, it’s VED (road tax) exempt and travelling through London won’t cost you a penny, either, since it’s also exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
The Kia Picanto was first launched in 2004 when the Korean carmaker was yet to reach the popularity it has today. That said, this small city car made other manufacturers take notice. In its latest generation, the Picanto continues to offer what people need in what’s become a fiercely contested market.
The small city car features the brand’s trademark ‘Tiger Nose’ grille, making it one of the more attractive choices on our list. It also gets a high-quality cabin and is well-equipped as standard, with Bluetooth, electric windows and 14-inch alloy wheels. For drivers who want to stay connected, it’s worth stepping up from the base model ‘2’ to the ‘3’, which adds a better infotainment system. As with all other Kias in the range, the Picanto also comes with a seven-year warranty.
The Toyota Aygo is all but identical to the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, which is why we’ve bundled them together. The 3,455mm Aygo is ever so slightly shorter than the others, which measure 3,466mm and 3,475mm respectively.
The three cars are about the same price as the VW/SEAT/Skoda trio further down the list, but while the Aygo and friends are slightly larger on the outside, their boots are smaller. Nevertheless, they look great and offer the option of a fold-back roof panel that gives a convertible feel without the cost and complexity.
The Suzuki Ignis offers something unlike other cars on this list and that’s SUV-styling. While it’s predominantly a city car, the Ignis benefits from that greatly desired raised ride height, a tall, boxy cabin and even the option of four-wheel-drive - it’s the smallest car to offer it - meaning it can cope with much more than congested city streets. Thanks to its box-like shape, the Ignis can easily carry four adult passengers and their luggage too. So, if a small SUV like the Renault Captur isn’t quite within your budget and you don’t require all the space it offers, the Ignis is the best, and much cheaper, alternative.
It’s the second entry from small car specialist Smart. As its name suggests, the EQ ForFour is a four seater and more useable car than its smaller sibling, especially if you’re wanting to carry passengers. The 3,495mm car is remarkably nimble, and having the engine positioned under the boot floor means it has a turning circle that’ll make a black cab jealous.
Just like its coupe sibling, the EQ ForFour benefits from impressively low running costs and its 80-mile range should be plenty for city commuters. As you can imagine, the boot space is slightly smaller at 85 litres to allow space for the additional two passengers.
Although the Volkswagen up! is mechanically identical to the SEAT Mii and the Skoda Citigo, it’s also the shortest of the three – although not by much. The up! measures 3,540mm, against the 3,557mm SEAT Mii and the 3,563mm Skoda Citigo. But with only 23mm – less than an inch – between them, we’ve included them all here.
Whichever one you choose, there’s space for four inside and a boot that’s far bigger than you’d expect in a car like this. All are powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine (although there’s also an electric Volkswagen e-up!), and they’re good fun to drive around town while still capable of a motorway cruise.
Few cars offer the retro chic that oozes from the Fiat 500. And measuring 3,571mm from end to end means it provides the compact dimensions vital for parking in Milan or Manchester. Inside, it’s surprisingly roomy with (just) enough space for four adults, although the lack of a five-door model hampers practicality. Boot space isn’t amazing but its 185 litres of space grows to 550 litres when you fold the back seats. With the wheels pushed right out into the corners of the car, and great visibility, it’s an easy car to park. And a ‘city’ mode makes the steering ultra light so moving into tight spaces is a cinch.
The little 500 is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces 68bhp. Buyers can also opt for the new mild-hybrid variant, which can deliver around 50mpg. The 500 is also available as a full-electric car, which doesn’t really compromise on its relatively spacious cabin and has the same 185-litre boot.
The smallest car in Hyundai’s range is also one of the smallest on sale in the UK, at 3,670mm long and 1,680mm wide. Inside and out, the latest i10 is even more stylish and is finished to a remarkably high standard despite its low price. There’s also plenty of space for five people, plus 252 litres of boot space. It still uses the same 1.0 or 1.2-litre engines from the old car, both of which work well around town, with the latter offering better motorway performance.
The i10 might be one of the smallest cars you can buy but it has more technology and interior space than ever before. Combine those qualities with improved driving dynamics and Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, and you have a car that’s well worthy of consideration.
Though it’s one of the larger cars on our list, the ZOE was worthy of a spot. Not only is it a popular supermini, it’s one of the most accessible ways to switch to electric motoring. The Renault was the first electric car to offer a mainstream zero-emissions alternative to regular family superminis.
While benefiting from VED (road tax) exemption, the ZOE is also a lot cheaper than a BMW i3 or Honda e and offers a decent range of 245 miles. It even comes with a 338-litre boot, which can rival family hatchbacks. All variants of the ZOE also come with an eight-year battery warranty to guarantee it won’t fall below 66% of its original capacity.
Read our guide to the Cheapest electric cars.