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City Cars

TV commercials tend to depict cars flying across an empty motorway at full-speed, but for most of us the every day reality of driving involves pushing and releasing the clutch over and over again in busy, densely-populated urban areas.

When it comes to buying a pair of wheels, then, appearance and sex appeal is less important than getting a model that is both economical and capable of weaving in out and traffic on a daily basis.

Here's our guide on finding a car that suits the city life.

Which features are important?

If you've spent any time on Britain's urban roads, then you know that they are very often crowded and narrow.

As such, the most important thing to look for in a good city runaround is size and mobility. You want a motor that can weave its way through a cramped street with minimal fuss - not a big 4x4 that is going to have trouble ducking into parking spaces to let others go past.

The exact size you require ultimately comes down to how you use your car. Those who need to take children to and from school will obviously need a decent amount of room in the back. Otherwise, the smaller the better - you can always put your shopping on the seats, so there's no need to worry so much about boot space.

What about financial considerations?

Depending on where they live, city drivers can actually spend more time on the road than those who make cross-country trips on empty roads. The constant kicking your engine into gear that comes with a slow-moving traffic jam can seriously drain your gas tank.

This is why it's important to think running costs. Though they can be more expensive to buy at the outset, diesel cars - as a general rule - tend to have better fuel economy in the long run. You will probably make fewer trips to the petrol station as well, which is a huge plus point in the city, where you often have to queue up for what seems like an age.

At the same time, you shouldn't feel unable to look beyond the tired old petrol versus diesel debate. Electric car charging points are becoming an increasingly common sight in the UK's biggest cities - particularly London - and there are plenty of savings to be made over five or more years.

Which models are recommended?

There's a whole host of city cars on the UK market, and sorting through all of them can seem overwhelming. Below are five that we recommend taking a closer look at.

Mini

The Mini isn't just a relic from the Swinging Sixties - it's still an uber-stylish runaround that is perfect for stop-start city driving. It lacks space in the back, but you can't go wrong here if you're a singleton.

Fiat Panda

This is perhaps one nominally small car that could probably handle a young family at a push. There's plenty of room in the backseat, and you can take it outside the city if need be.

Volkswagen Up

While not exactly winning any awards in the looks department, the VW Up is absolutely perfect for weaving in and out of city traffic. With its squished nose, it's also super easy to park when you're in a hurry.

Audi A1

Anyone with a functioning pair of eyes can see that the Audi A1 is the clear standout in the small car market when it comes to looks. Not only that, the handling is on point AND it's big enough to seat four.

Hyundai i10

If you only check out one car on this list, make it the Hyundai i10. It is a super efficient and economical car that is great for saving some pennies while you're stuck in traffic. It looks great on the outside - and it's durable and long-lasting too.

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We are five friends, not professional reviewers, with a combined age of 161 (that's 25+40+35+37+24).

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