For city dwellers looking to buy a new ride, size is key. Urbanites need a car that's comfortable for commuting, nimble in traffic, and small enough to squeeze into tight parking spots. Driving in cities can be a challenge, and the right ride makes all the difference.
Subcompact cars have a reputation for being cramped, sluggish, and utilitarian, but you don't necessarily need to settle for a boring commuter vehicle. Instead of buying a run-of-the-mill compact, consider the choices below, which can inject some fun into your morning commute or weekend adventure. Read on to learn more about some cars that offer a ton of entertainment value in a tiny package.
10 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec
Hyundai offers several trims for the Veloster, but the Turbo R-Spec is the best option for buyers interested in a fun-to-drive compact car. Unlike the standard Veloster Turbo, the R-Spec comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and Michelin performance tires. The R-Spec is equipped with a turbocharged, inline four-cylinder, good for 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.
The Veloster doesn't feature a ton of cargo space or room for passengers, but it's still a great pick if you're looking for a unique and attention-grabbing small vehicle. Plus, it's got a super cool third door on the passenger side.
9 Mini Cooper JCW
What AMG is to Mercedes and STI is to Subaru, John Cooper Works is to Mini. Founded as an independent tuning company, JCW was bought out by BMW and now serves as Mini's in-house performance division.
The current-generation JCW Hardtop is equipped with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four that produces 228 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. That represents a huge upgrade over the base-level Mini, which comes with a 134-horsepower three-cylinder engine. The JCW Hardtop hits 60 mph in just under six seconds and comes with stiffened suspension for enhanced handling.
8 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler isn't exactly what comes to mind when most people think of compact cars, but it actually has a lot of features that make it perfect for city driving. First off, the Wrangler is smaller than you might think. Wranglers sold from 1996-2006 (known as TJs) range in length from 151.2 to 154.9 inches. Current-generation (JL) two-door models come in at just under 167 inches.
The Wrangler's small footprint and great turning radius make it ideal for parallel parking into tight spots. Plus, it eats up potholes better than your average compact car.
7 Chevrolet Spark EV
The 143-inch Spark starts at just over $13,000, making it the smallest and cheapest model in Chevy's line-up. The standard model, which sports just 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, isn't anything to write home about.
The Spark EV, which was sold for just a few short years starting in 2013, is much more appealing. GM's first all-electric car since 1999, the 2014 Spark EV packs 130 horsepower and a ridiculous 400 lb-ft of torque. The Spark EV only travels 82 miles on a charge, but you may be able to see past that for torque figures that (hilariously) rival some exotics of the time. It could be just the car for you.
6 Honda Fit
Introduced in 2001 and now in its third generation, the Honda Fit deserves a spot on any list of the best small cars. The current Fit measures in at just 161.4 inches long but is known for its roomy interior and ample cargo space, as compared with other subcompacts.
The Fit comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that sends power to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. This little Honda makes only 130 horsepower, but it's also a fairly light car, weighing in at just over 2,500 pounds.
5 Chevrolet Bolt EV
The Chevrolet Bolt EV is an all-electric subcompact hatchback that gets an impressive 238 miles of range thanks to its 60 kWh lithium-ion battery. That's more than enough to eliminate range anxiety, and drivers who opt for DC Fast Charging capability can add 90 miles of range in just a half-hour.
The Bolt EV's motor produces an impressive 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. All that torque is available instantly, too, making for zippy acceleration off the line. All in all, the Bolt EV is an excellent choice for drivers concerned with size, sustainability, and fun factor.
4 Mazda MX-5 Miata
It seems like the Mazda Miata is many gear heads' go-to recommendation for pretty much any scenario. Need a weekend roadster? Get a Miata. Need a fun daily driver? Get a Miata.
There's a good reason for this. Over 30 years and four generations, the Miata has maintained a reputation for being one of the most fun, affordable, and practical sports cars on the market. If you don't need to haul too much stuff or too many people, the Miata should be high on your list of small city cars. Fun fact: At 154.1 inches, the current-generation Miata is the smallest MX-5 yet.
3 Fiat 500 Abarth
The Fiat 500 Abarth is a tiny hot hatchback that measures in at just 144.4 inches long. The car boasts a six-speed manual, stiffened suspension, and a turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder engine. Fiat 500 Abarths put down 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, which isn't too shabby for a car that weighs only 2,512 pounds.
Fiat has decided to end production on the Fiat 500 after the 2019 model year, so you may need to act fast to pick up a new 500 Abarth. Who knows, this quirky car may be a collectible someday!
2 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Introduced in 1976 as a souped-up version of the first-generation Volkswagen Golf, the Golf GTI is the quintessential hot hatch. While the Golf has grown about a foot over the years, it still maintains a small footprint, measuring in at 168 inches.
Today's GTI boasts a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, good for 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The car comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Drivers looking for even more power can shell out for the Golf R, which comes with 288 ponies under the hood and goes from 0-60 in under five seconds.
1 Ford Fiesta ST
Unfortunately, the Fiesta has suffered the same fate as the Fiat 500 Abarth, and Ford has discontinued it in the U.S. in favor of SUVs and pickups. 2019 will be the last year of the Fiesta, so those looking to buy new should do so sooner rather than later.
There are a lot of reasons to buy a Fiesta ST, especially if you're in the market for an inexpensive, driver-focused hatchback. The ST comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox and Ford's 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. It starts at just over $21,000.