If you live in the city, these are the best ways to get around.
The big city life has much going for it; but there are plenty of problems too. Personal transport, for example, is an issue– especially for those who aren’t fans of public transport and enjoy their own private means of mobility featuring more than just two wheels. So if you’re into city life, but want your own car to run around in, we’ve picked the ten best options you can buy.
Chevrolet’s Bolt EV is changing the perception of electric vehicles in a big, publicly accessible way. The Bolt offers EV performance, EV efficiency, and a huge claimed 238-mile range. But the Bolt EV is more than just a one trick pony – it offers impressive equipment levels, refinement, decent handling, and a supple ride. The big range and breadth of ability make the Bolt EV as capable beyond city limits as it is within them, while the standard 16.9 cubic feet of cargo volume makes it impressively practical.
The automotive company originally launched by Swiss watch manufacturer, Swatch, has now entered its second generation of city vehicle. Despite being under Daimler ownership now, the recipe remains the same, and smart produce cars made exclusively for city use. Here in the USA, they’ve even forgone combustion in pursuit of a pure-electric zero-emission state of city mobility. Outside of city confines, the smart ForTwo Electric Drive possesses all sorts of flaws, but in the city its ‘turn on a dime’ compact nature, electric zip, and ability to park anywhere makes it one of the best personal mobility options for the city-slicker.
It was the likes of BMW’s Isetta that originally established the city car segment in Europe, and it was the Nuova Fiat 500 that found fame as one of the most accomplished city cars of its era. Relaunched in 2007, the philosophy was similar to the original, as was the styling – and to Fiat’s credit, the new 500 has been a success. But it’s not the electric 500e we recommend for city mobility – it’s the regular gasoline powered coupe hatchback that can navigate the city best; with efficient and peppy turbocharged engines, eager maneuverability, and funky styling. There are even the hot Abarth versions if small performance cars are your idea of fun.
The original Fiat 500’s reign was brought to an end by none other than the original Alec Issigonis designed Mini, a car that redefined the city car segment globally. BMW has subsequently taken over the brand, resulting in the biggest Minis ever – ones that question the brand’s name and foundation on small cars. But the smallest Mini there is, the Mini 2 Door, lives up to its forebear’s reputation for being a great city car. It may be bigger than before – with actual space for 5 people at a push – but it retains the original’s go-kart fun feel, and is small enough to make city mobility and parking an absolute breeze.
When BMW decided to enter the city car fray of future mobility, they went all in. The BMW i3 features a carbon fiber monocoque chassis for reduced weight, making the i3 the EV that weighs as much as a regular compact hatch. But it’s packaged for economy of space, with enough of the stuff to fit a small family in a box that’s easy to maneuver, affords excellent visibility, and yet features mod-cons we’d expect from anything wearing a BMW badge. Fresh for 2018, there’s even an i3s performance version – and a range extender is available to increase the range from 124 miles to over 200.
The last EV on our list is also one of the pioneers of the compact EV segment. The second generation ditches amphibious looks for genuine style, while the mechanicals – or electricals – have been improved for more power, 147 horsepower of it. With a current range of 150 miles, the Leaf is pretty efficient, though a forthcoming 60 kWh battery pack will improve that figure to more than 200 miles. However what hasn’t changed from the first generation Leaf is the Nissan’s ability to drive as well as, if not better than, many compact hatchbacks – yet with none of the gasoline thirst – making it an ideal city companion.
There are few manufacturers who offer vehicles this compact in the United States, even fewer who manufacture them to be as fun and capable as the latest generation Chevrolet Spark. It follows a basic approach to design and engineering, but proves that sometimes simple is better. Yet it still features a high level of technology and one of the best infotainment systems around. Good visibility, a pliant ride, and a tiny turning circle – though not quite smart-small – make the Spark a funky, fun city hatch to pilot and park. The 5-speed manual gearbox is the one to opt for, for maximum enjoyment.
Kia is on the rise – and it won’t be long before its a genuine challenger to the premium elite. But it’s Kia's smallest US offering that cracks the nod here. It might be one of the bigger offerings on this list, but it’s small enough to make city mobility an easy affair. More than that, the Rio 5 Door offers compelling driving dynamics, extremely well sorted suspension, and levels of refinement that most compact hatches only dream of. With appealing styling and space for five, the Rio is deserving of a spot in any city-driver’s garage or street parking bay.
It may not appeal to the style-orientated as much as many others on this list do, but very few, if any, combine compact design with huge practicality the way Honda’s Fit does. The Fit’s biggest party trick is the ‘Magic Seat’ ability to fold all seats but the driver’s completely flat to unveil 52.7 cubic feet of storage space, while a CVT gearbox helps ensure fuel consumption remains low. It’s solidly built too, and packs big features in a small body. It’s at home outside of city limits, but it’s a great companion within them.
The 3 door variant might add a layer of small-car style to the Toyota Yaris, but the 5-door is the one that lends itself most towards practicality and inner city usage with smaller doors making ingress and egress easier in tight spots. It navigates those tight spots brilliantly, and feels nippy thanks to a tightly sprung suspension setup and peppy 1.5-liter engine. The automatic gearbox is geared too tall, so the manual is not only the better option in the city, but the more enjoyable one overall.