RAC Cars News


Bigger is not better - great small cars

By raccars Published

Kia Picanto

These small cars are compact but as clever and sophisticated as large executive saloons.

Manufacturers used to save their best technology, cleverest engineering and plushest materials for their larger, more expensive cars. But, just as orange is the new black and 40 is the new 30, small cars are the new big cars. If you have a small garage, do most of your motoring in the city or just don't feel comfortable driving a tank, the choice of small cars on the market is better than ever. They're affordable, economical and really very clever. These are the smallest cars available in the current UK market, arranged by length.

Britain's small cars top ten

Renault Twingo

At 3,595mm the Twingo beats the Suzuki Celerio to the tenth smallest car by only 5mm. Its unusual layout - rear engine and rear wheel drive - makes it rather entertaining to drive and frees up some valuable interior space. The boot is still small but it makes up for that with the ability to fit into the tiniest of parking spaces.

Kia Picanto

Also 3,595mm, the Picanto sticks to a traditional city car format. It's neatly designed to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing, while Kia's seven year warranty is always a big draw. The Picanto is surprisingly well built and generously equipped but competent rather than exciting to drive.

Fiat 500

Slightly smaller at 3,456mm, the tiny 500 is still quite a lot larger than the original Fifties model. It has bags of character and is very much the fashionable choice while a perky two cylinder Twin Air engine is a hoot to drive. Its retro looks are also highly customisable.

Skoda Citigo / VW up! / Seat Mii

This badge engineered trio differs by only mm in length, averaging out at 3,540mm. Nonetheless all three are ultra compact with a boxy shape that maximises interior space. Four adults can sit comfortably and there's a 251 litre boot, plus the VW Group's famous build quality.

Smart ForFour

Developed alongside the Renault Twingo, the ForFour weighs in at a slightly smaller 3,495mm thanks to reduced overhangs front and rear. There's no difference in interior space but the slightly heavier Smart has to work harder than its counterpart and is more expensive to buy.

Peugeot iOn / Citroen C-Zero / Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Another joint project, these 3,480mm triplets are all electric powered for maximum economy - they're also quite expensive, rather slow and offer limited range. However they're great for nipping around the city and comfortable enough.

Peugeot 108 / Citroen C1 / Toyota Aygo

Like the VW Group triumvirate, this set are pretty much identical under the skin but distinguishable by their different styling. They come in at 3,475mm and are superbly agile, if a little cramped compared to rivals. They're well equipped but less than plush inside. The similar Hyundai i10 feels a lot smarter, for example.

Mahindra e20

The successor to the G-Wiz is only 3,280mm and is practical in crowded urban areas. As an EV, it is very economical and far better built than the G-Wiz. It even comes with an airbag among the safety kit. Beware the limited 80 mile range, however, and don't even think about attempting a motorway or faster A roads.

Smart ForTwo

This is what Smart does - tiny, tiny cars. The third generation ForTwo is 2,695mm long but wider than previous models. It's also a much better car, with a proper gearbox, improved handling and a smoother ride. The only thing smaller is the...

Renault Twizy

At 2,319mm the Twizy's 'car' status is debatable. Officially it's a 'heavy quadricycle' and it's nearly as easy to park as a bike. What it lacks in windows and doors it makes up for in manoeuvrability but you'll need to park near a socket as its maximum range is 62 miles.

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