Smallest cars on sale in the UK 2016
If you’ve got a tiny garage or you just think the best things come in small packages, our-round-up of the smallest cars on sale will help
Tiny cars are big business in the UK. Maybe that’s due to our increasingly crowded cities and lack of parking. Our high fuel costs also drive demand for small, efficient vehicles – or maybe we just appreciate beauty in miniature. Whatever the reason, if you’re in the market for a city car, size matters – so here’s our round-up of the top 10 smallest cars (by length) on sale today.
The UK's smallest cars 2016
Below are the top 10 smallest cars in the UK by total vehicle length, in reverse order...
10. Renault Twingo (3,595mm)
Narrowly beating the Suzuki Celerio to number 10 on this list (by just 5mm!), the Renault Twingo takes a very different approach than most to city motoring. Flipping the front engine/front-wheel drive formula on its head, the Twingo’s engine sits underneath the boot floor – and drives the rear wheels.
Renault says this layout maximises cabin space, and it is pretty spacious for such a short car – though the boot is small. It also allows for a tiny turning circle, as the front wheels have no engine to impede their progress. That makes for some serious city manoeuvrability. It’s just a shame that the Twingo isn’t that exciting to drive – with such an interesting layout, it should have been an absolute hoot.
9. Kia Picanto (3,595mm)
It’s an identical length to the Renault, but the Kia Picanto follows the classic city-car layout. It’s just as neatly styled though, with Kia’s trademark ‘Tiger Nose’ grille sitting proudly on the front, while the interior has decent equipment levels and is nicely trimmed.
Kia is clearly confident in the Picanto's solidity, as it comes with the firm’s amazing 7-year warranty – a great comfort to anybody who likes to keep their car for a long time. Being based on the same platform as the popular Hyundai i10 is good news for reliability too. Only a dull drive really lets the Picanto down.
8. Fiat 500 (3,546mm)
The original 1950’s Fiat 500 was positively tiny next to its modern-day successor, but by our standards today it remains a pretty small car. It’s been a successful one, too – competing with the MINI for the top of the fashionable small car market.
While the wheezy 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-diesel aren’t exactly fantastic engines, the Fiat 500 is also available with a brilliant little two-cylinder TwinAir which perfectly suits its perky character. A classy interior packed with retro touches, and endless customisation options for the paintwork, wheels, decals and seats cement the 500’s appeal as the fashion accessory of choice for thousands.
7. Volkswagen up!/Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo (3,540mm approx)
These three cars may be identical under the skin, but there’s a few mm between them when it comes to length – blame the different treatment the various companies apply to the front grille and bumper for that. Nevertheless, they’re all still very compact indeed – and the boxy design ensures they should be effortless to park.
Those square dimensions also make these some of the roomiest cars in the sector, with a 251-litre boot and space for four adults. Plus, the Volkswagen Group’s parts bin endows them with a grown-up, great-quality interior. They’re brilliant fun to drive, too.
6. Smart ForFour (3,495mm)
The Renault Twingo’s luxurious sister car is a whole 100mm shorter than its sibling. You can thank Smart’s styling department for that, as the ForFour has shorter front and rear overhangs which, though they make the car shorter, don’t affect interior space. That means there’s genuine space for four adults (as the name might suggest) and a decent, though not huge, boot.
Despite being smaller than the Twingo the Smart ForFour actually weighs slightly more, so you’ll need to rev the tiny engines a lot to get the best performance out of them. It’s also pretty expensive, too.
5. Citroen C-Zero/Peugeot iOn/Mitsubishi i-MiEV (3,480mm)
You might not see many on city streets, but this trio of electric city cars are all still on sale – and nip in at number 4 spot on our list. Once upon a time, you were able to buy a conventionally-powered version of these cars – known simply as the Mitsubishi i – but this has been dropped in favour of the electric ones.
Despite all three cars retailing for over £16,000, they aren’t very accomplished, being slow, cheaply made and suffering with a poor electric range. They’re roomy cars for the size, though – and around city streets they’re nippy enough thanks to the instant torque of the electric motor. Honestly, though, there are better options for the money.
4. Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo (3,475mm)
Like the VW Group trio, these three cars differ slightly in their dimensions thanks to the different styling applied by their various manufacturers. All three are very compact, though, and should prove no problem at all to squeeze into the tightest of gaps.
Retaining the same platform and 1.0-litre engine from the old C1/107/Aygo has endowed the three cars with agile handling and lively performance around town, but compared to rivals they are very cramped inside. Despite the large amount of equipment on offer, they feel cheap, too. The penny pinching stands out next to better-trimmed rivals, like the Hyundai i10.
3. Mahindra e20 (3,280mm)
Consider the Mahindra e20 a replacement for the much-despised G-Wiz and it begins to look like a fairly attractive proposition. It's well suited for crowded city streets, and thanks to its electric powertrain fuel costs are minimal. It's also vastly safer than the G-Wiz, and even features that most impressive of safety technologies - the airbag!
Yet it's hard to recommend next to other rivals - electric or otherwise. The e20 can legally venture onto motorways, but we'd be worried about doing so - it's simply not powerful enough. The range is also a puny 80 miles, which, although it's plenty for city driving, simply can't cope with any cross-country trips. It's much better than most of its quadricycle brethren, but there are plenty of other, much better options.
2. Smart ForTwo (2,695mm)
Was this ever going to be a surprise? Smart has been trading on the ultra-compact dimensions of the ForTwo since its launch in 1998, touting the ability to park end-on to the curb as a particular highlight. Now in its third generation, the car is no longer than it was before – but has grown in width, and is much more mature and easy to live with than its predecessor.
The addition of a proper gearbox – dual-clutch auto or five-speed manual – is a godsend to anybody who had to contend with the original cars dreadful automated manual, while the shortened ForFour platform means ride and handling are much improved. If you only need two seats, there are few smaller ways to do it. Except for…
1. Renault Twizy (2,319mm)
Whether the Twizy can be called a ‘car’ is up for negotiation – the Government classes it as a ‘heavy quadricycle’. There’s nothing easier to park in the city, though be warned – the lack of a rear window will have you sticking your head out of the side to get a better look.
That’s not a problem, though, as side windows – and even side doors – are an optional extra. What comes as standard is two seats arranged in tandem, some lights, a wiper, and an electric powertrain capable of 62 miles on a full charge. So remember, however easy it may be to park, if you can’t get close enough to a socket, you’re doomed!
Honourable mention: Peel P50 (1,372mm)
Now this one really stretches the boundaries of ‘car’ – but as a Guinness World Record holder, it deserved a mention. Originally built in tiny numbers on the Isle of Man, the P50’s been given a new lease of life by a company producing reproductions. Supplied in either kit form or fully assembled, they come with the choice of an electric motor or a 50cc moped engine, and are sure to get you smiles wherever you go. And forget parking – with the neat grab handle on the rear, once you get home, you can simply take your P50 inside with you…
How easy is your car to park? Have we missed anything from this list? Let us know in the comments below...
Read some of our best car recommendations...