Perfect cars for city driving

1 October 2019

Small enough to nip in and out of traffic and steal the last tiny parking spot that no-one else can fit in. City cars are a great option for the urban driver. To help you choose the right small car for your lifestyle, we compare the Toyota Aygo, the Fiat 500 and the Smart ForTwo.

How reliable are city cars?

Small doesn’t mean unreliable in the case of the Toyota Aygo has topped Which’s What Car reliability listing for several years. However, it recently missed the top spot as it was narrowly beaten by another Toyota, the Yaris. According to Which: “Toyota as a brand always finishes highly in reliability and customer satisfaction surveys. In our most recent reliability survey, Toyota finished in third place with an impressive overall score of 98.6%.”

The Smart ForTwo hasn’t been around for long enough to feature in many reliability reviews, so it will be interesting to see how they fare over time.

The Fiat brand has suffered a reputation for poor reliability for a long time, however, the Fiat 500 was rated as having above average reliability by users in one of their surveys with just 11.1% reporting a problem with their car at least once.

Of course, leasing a car with an all-inclusive servicing package does mean your vehicle is in with a better chance of being looked after than the average car. And with repairs also included in your lease price, reliability might be less of a priority than for someone paying for repairs themselves.


How much room do city cars offer for people and luggage?

The Toyota Aygo and the Fiat 500 both seat four people, however the Aygo is the only car in this set of three to offer a five-door option with the Fiat 500 providing three doors only. The smallest of the trio, the Smart ForTwo has just two doors and, you guessed it, seats two people.

Boot space for the Toyota Aygo and Fiat 500 is fairly comparable with 168 litres and 185 litres respectively. The loss of two passenger seats in the Smart ForTwo frees up much more boot space to the volume of 260 litres.

In terms of size, again the Toyota Aygo and the Fiat 500 are fairly comparable with the Smart ForTwo a much smaller car. Take a look at the cars’ measurements in the table below.

Make and model Length (metres) Width (metres) Height (metres)  
Toyota Aygo 3.47 1.62 1.46 View on scheme
Fiat 500 3.57 1.89 1.49 View on scheme
Smart ForTwo 2.69 1.89 1.56 View on scheme

How fuel and tax efficient are city cars?

Smaller cars are well known for being economic to run. The Toyota Aygo delivers a respectable 56.5mpg combined and produces 93g/km CO2 - an important metric for company car tax (aka BIK) and of course, the environment. Opt for the Fiat 500 and you’ll achieve 51.4mpg and produce 116g/km CO2 which places this car in a higher BIK range.

If you want to save money on your fuel bill, you might find that an electric car is a good option. The Smart ForTwo fulfils this criteria running off an electric battery which produces 0/km CO2. You can travel up to 72 miles on a single charge making this a great option for commuting or making short journeys.

With no emissions, the Smart ForTwo means you won’t pay any BIK during the 2020/2021 tax year with BIK rising to just 1% in 2021-2022 and 2% in 2022-2023.

In addition, going electric will also save you money on:

  • It costs around 75% less to travel 100 miles in an electric vehicle compared to a petrol or diesel car
  • London’s congestion zone charges - £11.50 per 24 hours
  • Ultra low emission zones - are popping up all over the country. It will cost you £12.50 per 24 hours to drive in London’s ULEZ unless your car is low emission.

Over the course of a year, these fuel and zone savings could really add up.


What are the pros and cons of using a small car in the city?

All cars come with their pros and cons. Here’s our view of the plus and minus points of driving a city car:

  • Pros
    • By right-sizing your vehicle to your lifestyle you’ll save on fuel
    • They’re easier to park in small spaces on busy city roads
    • City cars often provide a fun driving experience
  • Cons
    • Less horsepower can mean it takes longer to get up to speed on the motorway or when going up steep hills
    • The ride might not be as smooth as bigger cars
    • There’s less space for passengers and cargo than a five-seat car

City cars are an attractive, small and perfectly-formed option if you live in a city. Not only do they get you around locally but you can also enjoy the freedom of the road for trips beyond the city limits.

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