Best used city cars (and the ones to avoid)

Used city cars provide hassle-free transport that's cheap, simple and, in the case of these modern offerings, cheerful...

Best used city cars (and the ones to avoid)

Best used city cars collage

Need to gad about town with a minimum of fuss and cost? A used city car sounds just the ticket. And if you’re worried you’ll have to compromise on space, style or comfort with a car of this size, let us put your mind at ease.

Modern city cars now available on the second-hand market are some of the best yet, with many even offering some of the best qualities of cars from the class above at a much lower price. Many now have automatic emergency braking systems to either limit or prevent low-speed accidents, while some have very intuitive infotainment systems to keep you connected while on the move.

To help you pick which one’s right for you, we’ve brought together 10 of our favourites and ranked them in order of preference, taking into account price, space, comfort, driver enjoyment, fuel economy and running costs. Read on to find out which one we think is the best.

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Best used city cars

Fiat 500

10. Fiat 500

Anyone wanting a fun, fashionable city car will likely have the Fiat 500 at the top of their list. Its cutesy looks have ensured it’s been massively popular and, while its fidgety ride, patchy build quality and rather noisy driving experience mean it won’t be for everyone, it’s adored by many owners for its light steering and easygoing nature around town. There’s a plethora of special editions and some funky colour options, too, so it’s possible to get a 500 that really stands out.

We found 2014 1.2 Lounge Start&Stop, 49,000 miles, £5442

Best used city cars

Fiat 500

Urban life can be hard on the gearbox, so check that there isn’t any slippage from the clutch or any notchiness when changing gear, since this indicates abuse and the likelihood of large repair bills.

Also, check for any scrapes to bumpers or poor accident repair to body panels. If the remedial work hasn’t been carried out to Fiat’s workshop standards, this could lead to future rust problems.

Read the used Fiat 500 review

Find a used Fiat 500 in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Suzuki Celerio

9. Suzuki Celerio

Stylish the Suzuki Celerio most certainly ain’t but, if you can live with its frumpy looks and cheap-feeling interior, it has plenty else going for it. For starters, you get a heap of kit for your cash and you also get plenty of space, with a rear-seat area and boot that are impressive roomy for a car of this size.

We found 2015 1.0 SZ3, 22,000 miles, £4962

Best used city cars

Suzuki Celerio

Suzuki scored a very impressive forth out of 32 manufacturers in the latest What Car? reliability survey – that's an encouraging sign for the Celerio’s long-term reliability. It’s cheap to run, too, and while it’ll never set fields of hay alight, it’s still a decent enough little thing to drive.

Read the full Suzuki Celerio review

**Find a used Suzuki Celerio in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Fiat Panda

8. Fiat Panda

The Fiat Panda is something of a legend. Fiat’s more practical alternative to the 500 has become well loved for its cheeky character, funky styling and low running costs. And, as a used buy, it’s even more appealing because it’s so cheap.

We found 2015 1.2 Lounge, 3,000 miles, £5995

Best used city cars

Fiat Panda

True, rear leg room isn’t as good as in some rivals, and the cheaper models feel a bit basic. But if you want a newish city car for a low price, the Panda’s certainly worth a look.

Read the full Fiat Panda review

Find a used Fiat Panda in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Peugeot 108

6= Peugeot 108

If all you’re after is a cheap little car to get you around, you could do a lot worse than the Peugeot 108 or its sibling, the Citroën C1 (see below). Both of these tiddlers are rather old compared with the other cars here, and both share cramped backseats and a tiny boot. However, to an extent, you get what you pay for because, like for like, these are among the cheapest small cars you can get.

We found 2014 108 Active, 29,000miles, £4205**

Best used city cars

Peugeot 108

The 108 has a funky dashboard and a decent amount of equipment. Fuel economy is excellent, with combined averages in the high 60s for both the 1.0 and 1.2 petrol engines. You can even get an open-top version with an electrically operated, retractable fabric roof.

Read the used Peugeot 108 review

Find a used Peugeot 108 in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Citroen C1

6= Citroën C1

The Citroën C1 is essentially the same car as the Peugeot 108, just with a different badge and mildly tweaked styling. Prices, equipment and engines are much the same, so which one you choose should simply rest on what’s available nearby.

We found 2014 1.0 Feel, 31,000 miles, £4790**

Best used city cars

Citroen C1

For those who worship the sun, you can get an open-top C1 called Airscape that has a retractable fabric roof. All but the most basic version of the C1 gets a 7.0in colour touchscreen you can link your smartphone to, allowing you to use navigation apps, listen to your music and read messages.

Read the used Citroën C1 review

Find a used Citroën C1 in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Renault Twingo

5. Renault Twingo

Spacious, practical and reasonably quiet, the Renault Twingo is an impressive little city car, spoiled only by the high price when new. However, prices are much more reasonable on the used market, making the Twingo a very appealing prospect second hand.

We found 2015 1.0 Play, 12,578 miles, £5299

Best used city cars

Renault Twingo

You still get the cute, quirky styling and a great range of paint colours to choose from, plus many Twingos will have been specified with unusual decals and colourful interior trims.

Read the full Renault Twingo review

Find a used Renault Twingo in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Skoda Citigo

3= Skoda Citigo

The Skoda Citigo, and its identical sibling the Seat Mii (see below), are both clones of the Volkswagen Up. Both the Citigo and Mii lack the Up’s smart interior plastics, but they’re still great to spend time in and they’re stupendous value as second-hand buys.

We found 2014 1.0 Greentech SE, 24,633 miles, £4495**

Best used city cars

Skoda Citigo

What’s more, they share the Up’s spacious interior and quiet driving experience, and all three cars are fun and comfortable, whether you’re snicking through city streets or bounding along a motorway.

Read the full Skoda Citigo review

Find a used Skoda Citigo in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Seat Mii

3= Seat Mii

The Seat Mii is perhaps a smidge more fashion-conscious than its twin, the Skoda Citigo, but in reality there’s no notable difference between them, so you should simply aim to find the best example of either car nearby. Either way, we suspect you won’t be disappointed.

We found 2014 1.0 Toca, 15,000 miles, £4995

Best used city cars

Seat Mii

Ecomotive versions are a bit more economical than the regular model because they’re fitted with low-rolling-resistance tyres and a start-stop system to reduce fuel consumption. Insurance figures should be low, thanks to the automatic emergency braking that helps to reduce low-speed incidents by applying the brakes. It was a cheap option when new, so look out for it.

Read the full Seat Mii review

Find a used Seat Mii in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Volkswagen Up

2. Volkswagen Up

As you’ll have read on the previous page, the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo both share a lot in common with the Volkswagen Up. But the Up is a little classier, thanks to its smarter interior, so it just pips its siblings to the post.

We found 2014 1.0 Move Up, 21,000 miles, £5250**

Best used city cars

Volkswagen Up

While those classier plastics and the more upmarket badge make the Up a smidge pricier, it's still superb value and – we reckon – worth the extra cost. This should also be offset slightly when you come to sell an Up, because the VW badge is a bit more desirable and should mean the car will be worth more than the equivalent Mii or Citigo.

Read the full Volkswagen Up review

Find a used Volkswagen Up in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used city cars

Hyundai i10

1. Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 is holding its value well, so it isn’t the cheapest used city car to buy. But neither is it the most expensive, and its deeply impressive blend of talents makes the i10 worth the cost. It’s quiet, comfortable and good to drive, but it’s also spacious and, in all but the most basic S trim, comes with plenty of equipment.

We found 2014 1.0 SE, 22,000 miles, £5242

Best used city cars

Hyundai i10

What’s more, you get the tail end of a long warranty. While with these longer warranties you should always check that you're happy with the level of cover provided in the later years, this added peace of mind is undoubtedly a bonus.

Read the full Hyundai i10 review

Find a used Hyundai i10 in the What Car? Classifieds

And the city cars to avoid…

Chevrolet Spark

Chevrolet Spark

Flimsy, noisy and nasty to drive, it’s hard to see why you’d pick a Chevrolet Spark.

And the city cars to avoid…

Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage is noisy, poorly built, uncomfortable and not even all that cheap to buy. Steer well clear.