Wheely cute cars: Top 5 tiny vehicles for urban life
These miniature motors are perfect for cramped city streets and squeezing into the tightest of parking spaces – plus, with such adorable styling, they’ll surely turn a few heads in the process.
Just as Jeep’s Wrangler is a go-anywhere vehicle out in the wilderness, today’s five curios are the equivalent for the urban jungle. With dimensions akin to a lawnmower, these puddle-jumpers will have you laughing in the face of height and width restrictions as you smugly dart your way through traffic. From new to old, we run-down our favourite cars for when space is at a premium.
5. Citroën Ami
Is it coming, or is it going? Who knows, it looks the same both ways. We’re not joking either, the Ami owes its distinctive styling to economising: Citroën uses the same mould for the front and rear. Meanwhile, the doors on either side open in different directions, again to save money on parts.
It’s quirks like these which make the Ami unique and loveable, but it’s the diminutive dimensions — just 1.4 metres wide and under 2.5 metres long — that make the French quadricycle such a laugh around town. Spot a gap? Chances are the Ami can get you through. And with a maximum electric range of 47 miles, you’ll get days of urban exploring before you need to plug it in.
At £7,695, it’s cheaper than a car, but safer than a bike. What’s not to like?
4. Microlino EV
As the brainchild of Micro Mobility Systems — the same company who gave us the folding mini scooter — the Microlino is quite literally as close as you can get to a road-legal Little Tikes car.
Despite obviously taking inspiration from the 1950s BMW Isetta Bubble Car, the Bavarian brand has no affiliation with this venture. However, you get the same front-facing door (yes, just like a Smeg fridge) to hop in and out.
As with the Ami, Microlino is an EV, but there’s a fair bit more pep to its powertrain. Top speed is pegged at 56 mph, although we’re not sure we’d like to go that fast with our nose pressed against the windscreen. While range is up to an impressive 143 miles depending on which battery variant you choose.
It might double the Citroën’s performance and range, but you pay nearly twice as much for the privilege: £13,350 — which, if we’re being frank, is proper car territory.
3. Fiat Topolino
Scratch away at the badge for long enough and you’ll discover that this Fiat is actually a Citroën. That’s right, the Topolino is a thinly disguised Ami clone under its cutesy drapes. But that’s no bad thing.
It stands to reason that the Topolino is designed for the sort of customer who prefers a Carbonara to a Coq au vin. Countless Italianisms adorn this electric Fiat. From the rope door pulls and chromed luggage rack, to the Verde Vita paint, it’s hard not to fall for the Topolino’s charms.
It’s no more expensive than its French sibling, either. So, if the Ami concept appeals, but you’re not a fan of the styling, the Topolino could well be the answer.
2. Renault Twizy
When the Twizy first went on sale back in 2011, few thought Renault would still be selling it some 13 years later. However, Groupe Renault announced last month that the Twizy is to finally be retired, making way for the new Duo sometime soon.
So, how did the Twizy manage to endure such a lengthy stint in production? First and foremost, there was little else like it back then. The combination of off-the-wall styling, tiny size, and a modest price tag of just £7,000 in 2011, allowed it to fill the city EV niche beautifully.
Just like Ami and Topolino, the Twizy could be driven by 14-year-olds in its native market — highlighting that it’s certainly no rocketship.
Depending on the model, the Twizy offered up to 17 hp and a 50-mph top speed. While a max 75-mile range (enhanced by ultra-efficient Continental eContact tyres) was plenty for most. And the feather in its cap? Those quirky scissor doors, of course.
1. Peel Cars
In a line-up of small, cute cars, there could be only one true winner: Peel. Officially named in the Guiness Book of Records as the smallest car ever produced, just 27 of the original P50’s still exist.
Manufactured on the Isle of Man in the early 1960s, this three-wheeled creation is essentially a motorbike for people who don’t want to get wet. And, with just a 50cc petrol engine and a 28-mph top speed, it’s probably a good thing there isn’t room for a pillion passenger.
Due to their rarity originals have fetched over £100,000 at auction, but fear not if you’ve fallen in love with Peel, there’s another way to ownership.
P50 Cars have created their own faithful homage to Peel’s historic models, offering customers the chance to buy, or build for themselves, a working recreation of the original. Kits are available for petrol or electric versions and range from £15-30,000 pounds. Pricey, yes, but a far sight cheaper than the genuine article.
Is this the ultimate tiny car? We think so.