The best city cars

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6 of the best city cars for £2,000
Cheap and cheerful town transport for £2,000 doesn’t have to mean buying an old banger. Stephen Errity from Auto Express picks some modern, fun and affordable options for getting you from A-to-B with ease.
Chevrolet Matiz
Chevrolet Matiz (2005-2009)
eBay loves: Cute looks, very economical
Watch out for: Quite slow and noisy
With its tiny footprint, the Chevrolet Matiz is perfect for navigating tight city streets, busy traffic and awkward parking spaces. Two small petrol engines are offered: an 800cc and a 1.0-litre. The former is best if you really only drive in town, while the latter can hold its own with motorway traffic for the odd long journey. Inside, the Matiz is tall yet narrow, but the cabin feels nice and bright. Passenger and luggage space are good for such a small car - you’ll be surprised how much you can squeeze in, although be aware that the already modest performance will be even less impressive with a full load.
Hyundai Amica
Hyundai Amica (2006-2009)
eBay loves: Very reliable and cheap to buy
Watch out for: Not as much fun as other city cars
The Hyundai Amica is a solid choice in the city-car class, however it suffers from rather boxy looks and isn’t fun to drive like some rivals. The 1.1 petrol engine is adequate, but feels a little out of its depth on the motorway. Get a CDX-spec car if you can, as this trim level includes air-con, alloy wheels, front fog lamps and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearknob. Neither the rear seats nor the boot are particularly large, so you might struggle with big shopping trips. The Amica’s best points are its very low running costs and excellent reliability.
SEAT Arosa
SEAT Arosa (1997-2004)
eBay loves: Fun to drive and cheap to run
Watch out for: Only available as a three-door
This is SEAT’s version of the VW Lupo  and like most SEATs, it tends to offer better value for money compared to its German sister model. Early Arosas can be picked up for just a few hundred pounds, but £2,000 will buy you a nice low-mileage example with a good service history. One major disadvantage of the SEAT Arosa is that it’s only available as a three-door, which makes accessing the already small back seats quite tricky. Boot space is at a premium, too. The diesel engine is the most capable, but you’ll pay more than you would for a petrol model.
Kia Picanto
Kia Picanto (2004-2011)
eBay loves: Comfortable and practical contender
Watch out for: Air-con only on high-spec models
The Kia Picanto packs lots of practicality into a small package - there’s plenty of space for both occupants up front, and all but the very tallest children will be comfortable in the back. A five-door body makes getting in and out very easy, while the rear seats fold down to increase luggage space. Engine options are petrol only - either 1.0 or 1.1 litres - and both offer good fuel economy. Insurance will be very cheap, too. The Picanto is comfortable on bumpy roads, but that soft suspension means it can lean quite a bit going around corners.
Fiat Panda
Fiat Panda (2004-2011)
eBay loves: Good engines and spacious cabin
Watch out for: Small boot, interior quality not great
The original Panda epitomised cheap and functional transport back in the 80s, and in 2004 Fiat brought the model back in a more modern package. It certainly looks distinctive - inside and out - and that high roofline means plenty of headroom for passengers, too. With just 200 litres of capacity, the boot is not as impressive, yet it’s still useful. The tall body means the Fiat Panda rolls a bit in corners, but the 1.2 petrol and 1.3 diesel engines both perform well. Mid-range Dynamic spec offers a good balance of value for money and standard equipment.
Ford Ka
Ford Ka (1996-2008)
eBay loves: Great to drive and still looks stylish
Watch out for: Quite prone to rust
A huge seller at its peak in the late 90s and early 00s, the Ford Ka turned heads immediately on launch with its quirky styling. Owners weren’t disappointed when they got behind the wheel, either, as the Ka is also great fun to drive. The original model can feel a bit dated now, however, and it’s important to have any car you’re looking at checked over for rust, as this is a known weakness. The sole engine option is a 1.3-litre petrol, but combined with the Ka’s well sorted chassis, it offers a good driving experience. Like the Arosa, the Ka is only available as a three-door, so it’s maybe not the best option if you use the back seats a lot for passengers or extra storage.
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