Smart Car

In The Market For A Microcar?

Smart Micro Car 2

Are you on the lookout for a zippy car that hugs corners and gets you round the city before you can say ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’? Then you may have found what you are looking for. ‘Petit’ is a word that comes to mind when describing these insects of the road. Micro cars are mainly designed purely to get you from A to B (within city limits), with the ability to carry a shoulder bag (and not much else) and park in any space – even on the curb legally if you are in some parts of Europe. 

And like any other car on the road, there are some good, even great ones, and the ones you’d rather avoid. Some old school drivers will tell you that any car with a 3 cylinder engine under 700cc is a microcar, however there’s no strict requirement. These days, the reality is either an electric or a 3 cylinder compact unit with an engine size pushing one liter if you are daring! Or even 1.2 liter if you’re a daredevil!! So, what makes them so appealing?

The Good

  • Fuel economy – it’s a no brainer
  • They are the best for parking – great for people with spatial awareness issues
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver around city streets
  • Easy to wash and vacuum
  • Less likely to get stolen (maybe lifted and moved, but not stolen)
  • Electric models already on the market taking less time to charge than larger contemporaries
  • You can get some great quirky and colorful interiors
  • If you’re really keen, you can join like-minded people in groups or clubs
  • A unique car that stands out

The Bad

  • Not great for long trips and can be a strain on the engine
  • Cargo space is limited
  • Passenger comfort and space is limited
  • Driver comfort not as luxurious as larger alternatives in most basic models
  • Older vintage models are getting harder to get parts for
  • Older models don’t have the luxuries and standard mod-cons

The Vehicles

Micro cars became the popular must have of the 1950’s, and many didn’t require a license such as the iconic Austin/Morris/Leyland Mini, BMW Isetta 300, Vespa 400, and the 1970’s Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar or Comuta-Car. However, for this article, I am concentrating on listing those more common or more quirky models since the 1990’s or those that started way back and are still in production that you will find on the used car market today. Some of them even come in turbo models which gives them that extra boost. Be sure to follow up with reviews and research on the model you’re interested in to get the best value for money. Also search out microcar clubs and organizations that have private listings not generally available on the regular car sales websites.

Chevrolet Matiz/Daewoo Matiz 1998-present

Chevrolet Spark

Chevrolet Spark/Holden Spark 2010-present

Daihatsu Copen

Daihatsu Copen 2002-2012

Daihatsu Mira/Charade/Cuore 1980-2018

Daihatsu Sirion 1998-present

Fiat 500

Fiat 500 (Revival model) 2007-present

Fiat Niki 126

Fiat Niki 126 or 650 1972-2000

Honda Beat 1991-1996

Kia Picanto 2004-present

Mitsubishi i-MiEV 2009–2015

Mitsubishi Mirage 2012-present

Nissan Micra 1982-present

Peugeot 208 2012-present

Proton Savvy 2005-2011

Toyota or Scion iQ Micro Car

Scion/Toyota iQ 2008-2015

Smart Fortwo (and its Cabrio version) 1998-present

Smart Roadster 2003-2005

Suzuki Alto 1979-present

Volkswagen Up! 2011-present

Microcar M.Go.3 2009-present

The Verdict

If you get the chance, whether through friends or the classifieds, take one for a test drive and experience first-hand the thrill of one close up. Having driven around England in a Fiat 500, I would recommend a microcar as it was great for travelling around the countryside (not just the city), is surprisingly spacious for a tiny car, accelerates really well and handles corners like a pro. It was also cheap on gas and fun to ride in.

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