Great cars for city driving

A short guide for city-based motorists.

Buying a new car can throw up any number of carefully deliberated considerations. These could include price, quality of the dealer, the number of miles on the clock, or even insurance costs.

Perhaps the most important one is thinking very carefully about where the car will be used. For example, if you live in a rural area or even work in agriculture, a 4x4 might be the best option as it will ensure you can handle any adverse weather conditions without coming a cropper.

However, if you are at the other end of the scale and a young professional or even a student living in a city centre location, it is probably a very different set of features that will attract you to your perfect motor.

It is by no means black and white though. There has been much debate regarding the best type of car to have if you want to lead the urbanised city life. With that in mind, we thought we would run you through our top tips for metropolis-based motorists who are on the hunt for a new car.

Small body

Although you might see many oversized Range Rovers and Toyota pick-ups clogging up enclosed bus lanes and roundabouts, these really are just a way for those city-dwellers with more money than sense to show off.

What is better advice is sticking to a model with a compact body, which will be able to help you safely swap lanes and navigate tricky roundabouts with the greatest of ease.

But there is one situation where a small outer body is more advantageous than any other. As you might have guessed, we're talking about parking.

We've all been there; you've just nipped from one end of the town to the other for a business meeting or a meal at a top restaurant, only to find that when you get there, a parking space is very hard to find.

While there are no guarantees in the city, a smaller model will inevitably give you the best chance of squeezing into the spaces that those with their flashy 4x4s or company estates cannot.

Tight steering

Staying with the subject of small spaces, the turning circle your car has can be one of the most integral aspects of city driving. This is something that many manufacturers have themselves taken note of.

Latest hatchback models by esteemed carmakers like Fiat and Ford have included 'city steering' facilities where the flick of a switch can instantly offer the control needed to pull off a tight-knit three-point turn or parallel park like a true pro.

But if your budget means you favour an older vehicle then it is essential to ensure the steering control is as tight as possible. As well as the obvious convenience that this will bring, it could also prove the deciding factor in avoiding any nasty accidents, which could compromise your safety or lead to some expensive repair costs.

Good rear view

You might often hear driving instructors say that you need eyes in the back of your head when at the wheel and this theory is never more true than when you are in the city centre.

At a busy junction, other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists could all pop out from every direction at any moment. Be sure your side and rear-view mirrors are positioned correctly to give you the best sight of anything that might be coming up behind you.

Again this will be invaluable when trying to parallel park and mean that you can carry out any other complicated manoeuvres as painlessly as possible.


There's no point splashing out on a two-litre gas guzzler if you're living in the city. It is most likely that you will be making short journeys and spending a significant portion of your time queuing at traffic lights. With this in mind, a car that uses fuel at a lightning pace is a bad idea for two reasons.

Firstly, there has never been more pressure to be environmentally responsible. A large engine in a city will spew out carbon and other toxins into the atmosphere - something that is bad for the general cleanliness of your home town and potentially detrimental to the health of pedestrians.

Secondly, fuel prices will not be coming down any time soon; in fact the exact opposite is true. Uneconomical cars simply don't make financial sense in areas where the increased horsepower isn't needed - there really are cheaper ways to try and impress your mates.

  • On: 15 February 2014
  • By: CarShop

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