City cars are getting better all the time. The days of the cramped, sparsely kitted-out, cheap runabout are long gone, and while the class isn’t populated by quite as many brands as it once was, those manufacturers who have stayed have, between them, driven up standards across the board.
Our list of the top ten best city cars is stuffed with perky little cars designed to be surprisingly practical and good around town, but mixes those traits with appealing designs, quirky colour choices and generous standard equipment levels. In some cases, they even outdo some of their bigger supermini counterparts by being fun to drive when the occasion allows.
Hyundai’s diminutive i10 city car has gone from strength to strength to strength. The first- and second-generation versions helped to bring considerable UK success to the South Korean brand - a trend that this new one should only accelerate.
Interior quality and general desirability have increased significantly, as has practicality (this is now one of the most accommodating cars in its class) while its sharp new exterior lends it an additional dollop of style appeal. It rides absorbently if a little noisily and firmly on range-topping 16in wheels, but is surprisingly well-equipped (not least with active safety kit) and its 82bhp atmospheric four-cylinder engine (now something of a rarity in cars of this size) lends it decent drivability and useful real-world performance.
It might not have the star appeal of the VW Up GTI models behind it, but as a well-rounded, sensible, well-equipped city car it takes pride of place at the top of the class.
A quirky contender in this rather congested segment, the Ignis is a zesty little car blessed with charm, value, space, versatility and fuel-efficiency. The fact that it looks more like a crossover than some of its contemporaries do, meanwhile, can do it no harm with market tastes being as they are.
It is brilliantly packaged, with a massive amount of interior space for its size. The interior looks a little bit flimsy and low-rent in places, and Suzuki’s touchscreen infotainment system leaves a bit to be desired; but if you don’t mind if cheap cars look and feel like they’re a bit cheap in places, as long as they’re still fairly hard-wearing, chances are you won’t care.
The car’s on-road dynamics aren’t as sharp or refined as some rivals. Performance is relatively strong, with Suzuki’s clever 12v mild hybrid system adding torque just where an atmospheric engine needs it, and handling is fairly perky; although the car’s ride can feel a little bit crude over bigger bumps.
It is possible to spec the Ignis with Suzuki’s AllGrip all-wheel-drive system, meaning this little car will go further off-road than many of its rivals. That, added to the rest of the car’s appeal, makes for a surprisingly compelling and characterful package.