Citroen's stylish C1 city carWhen thinking about buying a new car, it’s essential to first consider how you intend to use the vehicle. For most people, a car is the second-biggest life purchase they’ll make, so choosing the right type is extremely important.

These days, there is a dizzying array of makes and models to choose from – everything from SUVs to hatchbacks, saloons and convertibles. However, for the majority of people (young, old or families) cars are most typically used in an urban setting, driving around the city for school or work runs. Here are some key things you should look for when buying your next city run-around.

Size – both inside and out

Conurbations are, by nature, quite cramped so aiming small with a city car will make your life considerably easier – both from a driving and parking perspective. Nonetheless, buying a smaller car doesn’t necessarily mean you need to compromise on driver comfort or space.

Modern city cars feature clever designs that maximise the space inside the vehicle. Cars like the Citroen C1 feature an incredibly small overall footprint yet feel almost Tardis-like inside with lots of smart, space-saving layout features.

Parking aids and sensors

Driving in the city frequently means making endless circuits trying to find a space to park and you’ll often find yourself attempting to squeeze your car into the most impossible of spaces. Aids like cameras, sensors or even automatic parking systems will help you fit your car into the tiniest parking space.

Fuel economy and emissions

Emissions charges are now becoming common in larger cities around the world as a way to decrease emissions and protect the environment. A small car with low emissions and a high fuel economy will save you considerable expense on short runs around the city – both in terms of charges and cost of fuel. Alternatively, going electric – or hybrid – can also mean reduced bills.

Overall running costs

Frequent, short, start-stop runs in a car can put more stress on the vehicle than longer drives. Check online for a car’s reliability and repair cost data to ensure you choose a car with low overall running costs. Also bear in mind, if you buy a smaller vehicle with a powerful engine, you will still incur higher insurance charges that can negate savings made elsewhere.

Collision detection systems

Busy city streets increase your chances of being involved in a crash, either caused by you or by other drivers. Unexpected bumps and scrapes are a common problem in congested cities but having a collision detection system on your car can help prevent accidents by applying the brakes - even if you fail to do so. Sensors, detectors and automatic driving aids have become increasingly widespread in modern cars and we’re likely to see these technologies become even more popular in the future.

Finding the best of both worlds

The best city cars also drive well out on the open road so check online car guides for vehicles that can handle longer journeys too. Even the smallest cars these days feature items designed for comfort, such as fitted seats, interior screens for the kids and climate control. Just because a car has been designed for the city doesn’t mean it shouldn’t offer good handling and a comfortable ride.

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