Whether you’re mainly an urban, suburban, rural, motorway driver or a mix of all of four, where you drive and the conditions you face will directly influence your next vehicle choice.
In this article we look at the important factors to consider, if you're a city driver. We also share with you our list of top 10 cars for 2018 for this driving environment.
INNER CITY DRIVING
While there’s been a general decline over recent years in the volume of motorists driving around our cities, for many, the car remains their preferred means of transport for getting around their home and work town.
Fortunately, in recent years the car industry has responded by designing vehicles that are specifically built for city driving. City dwellers now have a whole gamut of city-suitable cars on offer to them, many perfectly adapted to functioning in the most demanding of urban environments. Importantly, whereas in times gone by city cars failed to perform well when given the task of long or motorway driving, today’s versions handle both challenges with near equal ease.
We know that factors such as safety and style will figure high on your city vehicle wish-list, so here we’re taking the conversation in a different direction and focussing on the other key things to consider about city driving – namely compactness, nimbleness, great handling, fuel economy and low emissions.
With often impossibly small parking spaces and congested narrow streets, city motoring requires nifty driving and parking skills. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the vehicle, the fewer problems you’ll face in the city. However, comfort also needs careful consideration and finding the vehicle that strikes the right balance between exterior compactness and adequate interior space and comfort is vital.
Your lifestage may demand you compromise a little on compactness, because whilst some of the smallest city cars may be fine for just the two of you, they may not work for a family lifestyle. Remember, any up-grade in internal space means an increase in external size, ergo increased difficulty in parking, so choose carefully. The good news is that these days compactness comes in different degrees and with a little research you’re sure to strike the right balance.
Nimbleness and Great Handling
City driving brings with it a constant barrage of unexpected events, and the ability to respond immediately with nimble-ness and controlled handling, are upmost priorities.
Fast response to small, subtle driver commands, no swing and great responsive brake power can mean the difference between avoiding a near accident or not. Again, some of this will come down to size of vehicle, but much also due to how well and smoothly the car responds.
Fuel Economy and Low Emissions
The constant stop-start driving of city motoring means your engine is forever being shut down and started up again, forcing it to work hard, consume more fuel and emit more emissions.
Petrol is the better traditional engine type for those who do mainly city driving because whilst newer diesels omit fewer fumes than their ancestors, petrol still remains cheaper to refuel.
Cities however are where green cars such as hybrids and electrics really do come into their own, and today they should be a serious consideration because you’d be hard pushed to get greater fuel efficiency and a lower city driver footprint in any other vehicle. The great news is that many green cars are specifically designed for the city so offer the compactness you’ll need. With the range (distance capacity) of some green cars now offering a greater average, they can now comfortably cover much longer drives as well.
Stop-start driving systems are also great feature to look for in a city car because they reduce idling time so reduce both unnecessary fuel consumption and emissions.
What to Look for in a City Car:
Compactness… make sure you strike the right balance of exterior dimensions and internal space and comfort
Nimbleness and handling… make sure your car is prepared for the unexpected, prioritise ease of manoeuvring and great control and handling
Fuel economy and low emissions… consider alternative fuel vehicles to counteract low fuel efficiency and unnecessary emissions of city style driving. Alternatively, petrol remains the more fuel efficient traditional option in the city. Look for stop-start systems
City Cars need to adapt to your life, whatever your circumstances. Fortunately, the huge growth of this market means that there are now a wide range of options that are nimble and practical around urban areas while still offering great fuel economy, safety and impressive performance.
VW’s Up, and its sister models the Citigo & Mii, have rubber-stamped credentials in this field. The UP is an extremely strong option, blending comfort and style with an impressive reliability record and the full five-stars from independent safety body EuroNCAP.
Its smart design has been adapted into the Skoda Citigo, another notable example of an agile city car that’s affordable to lease, friendly on the pocket and has been kitted out with a wide variety of high-tech features borrowed from some of the brand’s larger, flagship models. It drives well and there are several trim levels to choose from, ranging from the efficient to high-performance.
City Car leasing shouldn’t mean you have to compromise on practicality, either. Cars such as the Fiat 500 and Citroen C1 have a great deal more storage space than their compact design might suggest. Their modern exteriors have also clearly highlighted them as two of the trendier City Cars on the market.
While you might not have the space or means to get behind the wheel of a bulky, growling sports car – that doesn’t mean you have to give up the dream. The UP GTI has a nippy and exciting engine which is great fun to drive. It looks the part too, taking many of its styling cues from models further up the chain such as the Golf and Polo. Alongside this is Peugeot’s “Roland Garros Edition” 108 which is an eye-catching presence on the road and has an impressive economy for a vehicle with significant power under the bonnet.
With an ever-growing range of impressive vehicles, it can be difficult to decide which model to choose. This is particularly difficult when many of the models share many of the same traits, design and engines - however, each offer their unique benefits to help appeal to motorists of all kinds. Take a look at our picks for the top 10 city cars to lease in 2018:
Our 2018 top 10 list of City Cars: