What's the best narrow car to replace my Ford Fiesta?

Reader needs to find a narrow car to replace her Ford Fiesta, which is too wide to drive comfortably along tiny Devonshire lanes...

08 May 2019
Kia Picanto

I’m looking for a small, narrow five-door car with a manual gearbox for motorway and town driving that won’t mean I have to compromise on comfort, practicality or driving enjoyment.

I have noticed that car specifications online focus on length, presumably because of parking efficiency, but width is also important. We often travel from Hertfordshire to Devon and need a car with enough interior space for four adults to sit comfortably and enough boot space for weekend bags plus a bit of space for shopping. 

My current car is a Ford Fiesta, which is 1735mm wide, excluding the door mirrors. It’s an excellent car in many ways, but our weekend home in Devon is in a one-way street with 6ft 6in width clearance and my Fiesta touches the foliage on both sides of the road.  

I love the Fiesta, but I would like a car that’s slightly narrower, with a bit more oomph and better fuel economy. It costs me around £60-£65 in petrol for a round trip to Devon for the weekend, and the Fiesta’s 1.0-litre engine doesn’t cope that well with hills when it’s fully loaded.  

I am considering a Smart Forfour, because it’s narrower than other cars, but I also like the look of SUVs and would consider one of these, because it would give our back seat passengers more shoulder and head room. I’m also considering the new Suzuki Jimny, which is compact yet spacious inside for a small car and surprisingly narrow (1600mm) with good exterior design. However, it has had a number of poor reviews, including the What Car? one, which gave it two stars. So, if you can suggest any alternatives I’d be grateful.

Susan Wells

What Car? says…

Our 2019 City Car of the Year, the Kia Picanto, might suit your needs. Although it’s small, it has five doors and is fun to drive. We’d recommend the 1.25-litre petrol engine, which is strong enough to cope easily with motorway driving speeds and averaged 47.9mpg in our True MPG tests. Roughly speaking, this means it should cost around £46 to do your round trip from Hertfordshire to Devon. 

Kia Picanto

Even better, if you pick any trim level aside from X-Line and X-Line S, it’s just 1595mm wide. Our preferred 3 trim provides electric folding door mirrors for those really narrow roads, as well as climate control and cruise control to take the strain out of long motorway drives. 

If you’d like an SUV instead, the Suzuki Ignis is marginally wider at 1660mm, but it’s roomier and even cheaper on fuel. If you need five seats, the entry-level SZ3 trim is best. But if you only need four seats, opting for SZ-T trim comes with two separate rear seats that individually tilt and slide back and forwards to provide more leg room or boot space. It has a bigger boot than most city cars, including the Picanto. 

Suzuki Ignis

The conventional 1.2-litre petrol engine averaged 50.9mpg in our True MPG tests; this means your weekend trip should cost around £43. If your budget is bigger, the 1.2 hybrid is worth considering, because it’s even better on fuel; in fact, it’s the most economical car we’ve tested so far, at 59.6mpg. However, its What Car? Target Price is £12,867, which is £1495 more than the SZ-T. 


What are the UK's narrowest new cars?

Have you noticed that the parking spaces in your city centre have shrunk? A few years ago, many local authorities decided to create more urban parking by making thousands of parking bays smaller.

At the same time cars have also grown; hatchbacks generally get slightly larger with each successive generation and the growing popularity of SUVs has put a higher number of more imposing vehicles on our roads.

So, if you need a narrow car to fit in with your life or simply hate the hassle of parking in tight car park spaces, check our our pick of the narrowest city and small hatchbacks and small SUVs.

If any of these models take your fancy you can save money by buying through What Car?'s New Car Buying service, which links you to dealers with discounted prices so there’s no need to haggle. In each case the price you'll pay matches or beats the Target Price set by our team of mystery shoppers, so you can be sure you're getting a great deal.

The narrowest city cars

5. Hyundai i10

Width 1660mm

What Car? rating 4/5

The UK’s narrowest new cars revealed

The i10 is the epitome of a classic city car. It’s narrow and tall and has five doors as standard. It also comes with a choice of efficient engines, all of which offer quiet cruising manners. All versions are roomy inside and come with a long warranty, and if you pick the range-topping Premium SE spec, you’ll also get a class-leading infotainment system.

Read our full Hyundai i10 review, or see what discounts are available


=3. Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen Up

Width 1641mm

What Car? rating 4/5

The UK’s narrowest new cars revealed

The Mii, Citigo and Up may all have different badges on their bonnets, but they're all essentially the same underneath, and that’s why they’re all the same width. There are differences, though: the Up is marketed as a touch more premium, so it’s the priciest; the Citigo is for the ‘masses’, so it’s the cheapest; and the Mii sits somewhere between the two, aimed at a sportier clientele. Whichever you choose, however, you’re sure to be able to negotiate the smallest spaces.

Read our full Seat Mii review or see what discounts are available

Read our full Skoda Citigo review or see what discounts are available

Read our full Volkswagen Up review or see what discounts are available


=3. Citroën C1, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo

Width 1641mm

What Car? rating 3/5

The UK’s narrowest new cars revealed

The C1 is priced to undercut most of its city car rivals, although its sibling, the Peugeot 108 can actually be bought for slightly less through What Car?'s New Car Buying service. Like the 108, the Toyota Aygo is closely related to the C1. While it's the most expensive of the three before discounts, you can buy it for the least of all through What Car?. Find out more below.

The UK’s narrowest new cars revealed

Although the Celerio is Suzuki’s smallest and cheapest model, with a low entry price, it’s not as basic as you might expect. All versions come with a DAB radio, electric front windows and five doors. There’s only one engine (a 67bhp 1.0-litre petrol), but there are three trim levels to choose from.

Read our full Suzuki Celerio review or see what discounts are available


1. Kia Picanto

Width 1595mm

What Car? rating Rated 3 out of 5

The UK’s narrowest new cars revealed

City cars need to provide seriously cheap motoring with as little compromise as possible on space, quality and driving characteristics. The Picanto does all that so well that we named it our City Car of the Year for 2019. It rides and handles better than the Celerio and Citigo, has a better quality interior and is marginally narrower than any other city car.

Read our full Kia Picanto review or see what discounts are available


Next: the narrowest small cars >

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